Feds roll out rural community development funding

The federal government has pledged $45.6 million over four years to extend Canada’s Rural Partnership (CRP), which will flow support for rural community development through the ag department’s Rural Secretariat.

The support comes in the form of a new CRP funding initiative, titled the “Community Development Program, Building Rural and Northern Partnerships,” and is intended to “lighten the painful adjustments made in communities across Canada.”

“The next four years of CRP is about results for rural Canadians,” Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the federal minister of state for agriculture, said in a release Friday.

“Communities across Canada, like our forestry, mining, farming, fishing, agricultural and manufacturing communities, have been the foundation of our economy for generations — and we cannot thrive without them.”

Having worked with rural citizens “building knowledge and tools for rural development” during the first 10 years of the CRP, the government said its Rural Secretariat is now “transitioning to a more active services approach designed to achieve more results for rural communities.”

“Resource-dependent communities are struggling in the face of a reduced demand for natural resources and declining prices because of the restructuring of resource industries,” said Blackburn, a Quebec MP.

To that end, the Community Development Program, Building Rural and Northern Partnerships, “will assist communities — especially those that are resource-dependent — in activities that will make a difference in rural communities,” he said.

The government said the new program’s objective will be “to support stakeholders in the development of collaborative activities which engage communities and develop and transfer knowledge to address one or more of the rural/northern priorities,” which include:

  • enhancing the competitiveness of rural and northern regions;
  • fostering the “transformation of local ideas and untapped assets into sustainable innovative economic activities;” and
  • facilitating development of new economic opportunities from “existing natural and cultural amenities.”

Eligible applicants for funding include non-profit organizations, organizations or associations, universities, co-operatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local governments and, in areas where there’s no local government presence, provincial and territorial governments.

Preference will go to projects that impact resource-based rural and northern communities (such as those in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining or energy); that have a “multi-sector/multi-community” collaboration in addition to funding partners, or are regional in nature; and that support the transfer and adoption of knowledge and know-how around the use of new technologies for community development and knowledge-building purposes.

Funds

Available funding for “Partnership” projects, to “develop partnerships and partnering initiatives among stakeholders to enhance capacity for innovative development,” is to cover up to one half of total project costs, to a maximum of $75,000 per project for regional projects and $100,000 for national projects.

For northern regions, “Partnership” funding can reach up to two thirds of total project costs, to a maximum of $75,000 per project for regional projects and $100,000 for national projects.

Funds for “Knowledge Building” projects are to go to develop “knowledge about barriers to rural development and information used to address these barriers (and) about gaps that exist in accessing and using tools and information for rural development; and/or new tools and information for addressing the gaps and barriers to rural development.”

Such projects must “transfer knowledge to communities and regions to increase the awareness, availability and accessibility of information, expertise, tools and processes,” the government said.

For rural regions, “Knowledge Building” funding can reach up to one half of total project costs, to a maximum of $200,000 per project and up to $100,000 per fiscal year. For northern regions, funding can reach up to two thirds of total project costs, to a maximum of $200,000 per project and up to $100,000 per fiscal year.

Funds for “Workshop” projects are meant to be used to “engage and mobilize community and regional stakeholders in collaborative development initiatives” in workshops, workshop series, conferences or forums that include “rural specific content” and are designed to provide “definite results and impacts” in rural regions.

For those, funding can reach up to one half of total project costs, to a maximum of $15,000 per project, for rural regions and up to two thirds of total project costs, to a maximum of $30,000 per project, for northern regions.

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