Rural Development Grants to Boost Nicola Valley – Okanagan Economy

The province on Friday announced a series of rural development grants in the Nicola Valley to support economic development and diversification.

This is the next step in the StrongerBC economic plan and ongoing recovery efforts in Merritt following the November floods of last year.

“The people of Merritt have been through a lot over the past year and they know how important resuming business is to rebuilding the community,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Development Roly Russell. , in a press release.

The provincial government is providing a $1 million rural development grant to the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association to build a community slaughterhouse in the Merritt area.

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This will provide meat processing and cutting and packaging services to local farmers and ranchers.

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“This project represents significant employment and economic opportunities for the region, while ensuring that ranches, packers and local businesses are part of a strong and resilient BC food system,” said the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lana Popham, in a press release.

“With recent changes to BC’s meat licensing system and investments in facilities like the Nicola Valley Community Slaughterhouse, this revitalization of the small-scale meat industry is making it easier to produce, buying and selling BC meat in our rural communities and helps build our food security and food resilience.

The abattoir will be a government-licensed and inspected facility offering a full range of red meat processing services.

According to the province, local producers have been affected by the lack of processing capacity. Julia Smith, a pork and beef producer in Merrit, hopes the new facility will help her business as well as other local producers.

“My partner and I moved to the Nicola Valley in 2016, aiming to expand our business to meet the growing demand for well-bred local meat. But we soon found that the processors we relied on were no not able to follow our production and we had to reduce the activity instead of developing it.

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“We were about to give up. But now we are ready to continue, because this facility will allow us and other local family farms and ranches to grow and prosper while providing greater food security to the community.

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The province is providing a $1 million rural development grant to the Scw’exmx Tribal Council toward Gateway 286 in Merritt.

“After an incredible year of fires, floods and pandemic, we salute the Government of British Columbia’s $1 million grant that will strengthen our rural community, support well-paying jobs and much-needed economic development,” Spayum Holdings LP and Scw’exmx Tribal Council Director Terrence (Lee) Spahan said in a press release.

“The Gateway 286 project is a 30+ year vision of past and present Indigenous leaders in Nicola Valley and these funds will bring our business and tourism development one step closer to reality. This project will improve the experience of [traveling] public by providing much-needed services, and it will provide well-paying jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities to the people of the Nicola Valley.

Meanwhile, the City of Merritt is receiving a $500,000 grant tied to economic recovery for flood-affected communities. The grant will go towards carrying out economic development projects and initiatives to support long-term economic recovery.

This is in addition to provincial funding of $329,000 for the Town of Merritt to update flood hazard mapping and develop new flood mitigation plans.

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