Windows of opportunity do not stay open for long, and when they are closed, they shut out what could have been.
Judging by the number of funding applications for which the Village of Ashcroft applies in comparison with the neighbouring municipalities of Cache Creek, Clinton, Lillooet and Lytton as well as the recent actions of our newly elected mayor and council, we continue to miss out on many opportunities.
Anyone can peruse the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ website and see the list of funding programs offered by UBCM through the Renewed Gas Tax Fund (GTF) and Local Government Program Services (LGPS). The 2018 Outcomes Report of GTF-funded projects completed between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2016 summarizes the number of projects B.C. communities availed themselves of the funds: Cache Creek is reported as having completed three, Clinton four, Lillooet four, Lytton two while Ashcroft completed none.
Collating the summaries of funded projects for the LGPS (Age-friendly Communities Program 2005-2018, Asset Management Program 2015-2018, Community Emergency Preparedness Program Fund 2017-2018, Community to Community Forum Program 2001-2018, Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative 2011-2018), Cache Creek is reported to have completed fourteen, Clinton ten, Lillooet eighteen, Lytton twenty while Ashcroft completed one.
Admittedly, some funded projects are not yet completed while others have different funding sources, such as the Small Communities Fund, Canada Infrastructure Program, and Northern Development Initiative Trust. There seems to be, however, a significant difference in the number of applications submitted between our town and towns in our vicinity of similar size and staffing levels.
At the Jan. 14, 2019 regular meeting, Ashcroft council moved to “receive and file”, which means no action is taken, on new child care funding opportunities introduced first at the UBCM Convention they attended in Whistler this past September.
This is unfortunate as the Village has recognized that a shortage of licensed child care spaces is causing issues for many local businesses and industries.
Currently, UBCM is working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to develop a three-year funding program to support local governments to meet the new provincial requirement to complete housing needs reports.
The first round of funding is expected to be available in spring 2019. Mayor and councillors have indicated that housing is a priority in Ashcroft. Let’s hope that they don’t close the drapes on this window of opportunity.