Rural dividend grant for Ashcroft Indian Band

The funds will be used to help develop a commercial greenhouse operation on the former racetrack site.

The Ashcroft Indian Band (AIB) is one of 73 local governments, First Nations, and not-for-profit organizations around the province to receive a major grant under the provincial government’s new BC Rural Dividend program.

The AIB received $99,620, which the band will use towards funding a commercial greenhouse project, says band administrator Jodene Blain. The greenhouses will be located on the site of the former racetrack, which closed permanently earlier this year.

“With all this land and all this sun, it’s a perfect growing area,” says Blain. “We’re in talks with Simon Fraser University to partner with them and have students come up here. We’re looking at different options for heating in winter, and the rural dividend will help with that.

“We’re trying not to duplicate what other local farms are already doing,” she adds. The band plans to start groundwork and surveys this week before the snow flies. “It will create lots of jobs for the community, the band, and the village.”

The AIB has already received a $1.2 million grant to build a new soccer field, two baseball diamonds, and a pond surrounded by activity trails. A grant of $1.1 million is to be used towards the construction of a new elders’ centre, which Blain says will contain six one-bedroom units with a common area. “We’ve just finished a feasibility study and are ready to start the business plan.”

The new sport and activity facilities, as well as the elders’ centre, are slated to be built on the north side of Old Cornwall Road, across from the band office.

The rural dividend grant is a three-year, $75 million program to help rural communities strengthen and diversify their economies. The villages of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton all applied for, and received, project development grants from the program in August, which will be used for marketing and planning studies. A second intake of grant applications for the program opened earlier this month and runs until October 31. Eligible parties can apply for the grant as often as they like.