Today’s Poll

Benefits of Local Conservation Funds

By Contributor
February 14th, 2023

Submitted by Kootenay Conservation Program

Across the province, Local Conservation Funds are an approach that a growing number of communities and local governments are taking.

Local Conservation Funds provide much-needed financial support for important local projects that contribute to the health of wildlife, habitat and water.

The Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, established in 2008 in the East Kootenay, was the first of its kind in Canada’s history.

Local residents agreed, by referendum, to pay a parcel tax of $20 per parcel per year to this dedicated fund for conservation projects. The service was so successful, the Columbia Valley’s Regional Directors voted unanimously to remove the sunset clause before the service was due to expire so it would continue after 2018.

The Local Conservation Fund on Kootenay Lake was established by referendum in 2014 in Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) Electoral Areas A, D and E.

The RDCK fund has already provided almost a half million dollars in grants to local conservation projects with proven long-term benefits.

The fund has also generated over four times that amount in leveraged funding and in-kind support, meaning each $15 that residents have paid per parcel has multiplied into $75 on the ground.

Last October, residents of Electoral Area H (Slocan Valley) voted to join the service.

Examples of the important projects that have received funding include cost-share electric fencing to reduce conflicts with grizzly bears, fish habitat restoration, creation of native plant meadows to increase pollinators, and the acquisition of important local properties like Cottonwood Lake.

“We have seen the benefits of the Local Conservation Fund service in the Columbia Valley and Kootenay Lake areas of the Kootenays” says Juliet Craig, KCP Program Director.

“Not only do the projects benefit wildlife and habitats, but the leveraging of additional funds has economic benefits like the creation of jobs and work for local businesses and contractors”.

These Local Conservation Funds in the Kootenays have been so successful that the South and North Okanagan followed suit and established this service, and many other areas of the province are looking to adopt this approach.

The Local Conservation Fund service is being proposed for Electoral Area F which includes the north shore of Kootenay Lake, Taghum, Beasley and Bonnington. The RDCK will use the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to assess public support.

“We have seen the benefit of the local conservation fund in supporting worthwhile projects and initiatives focused on protecting wildlife, habitat and water in other Electoral Areas across the RDCK,” said RDCK Electoral Area F Director Tom Newell.

“The Alternative Approval Process will provide Area F residents with the opportunity to have their voice heard and determine whether this type of funding model is of significant value.”

“A Local Conservation Fund is a powerful opportunity to turn a modest contribution into larger achievements that will benefit local communities now and for generations to come” says Craig.

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