by EVAN MATTHEWS
The Robson Valley is getting a new piggy bank, of sorts, but there is a catch.
At the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George’s (RDFFG) December 2016 meeting, Electoral Area H Director Dannielle Alan, asked the board to consider a $25,000 contribution to establish the Robson Valley-Canoe Community Endowment Fund, and support an application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) Community Foundation Grant Program for an additional $25,000.
The board approved Director Alan’s request, and $25,000 will be allocated to the Robson Valley-Canoe Community Endowment Fund for each of the next two years, conditional on matching grants from NDIT – leading to a total sum of $100,000 at the end of two years
“We’ve already applied to NDIT,” says Alan. “As of this year we’ll have $50,000 in there, and it’ll be accruing interest.”
So what’s the catch?
“We can only spend the interest from the endowment fund,” says Director Alan.
“But it gives us greater flexibility in helping small groups that are looking for little bits and pieces of funding, groups that don’t fit into other funding criteria,” she says.
The actual amount of accrued interest will depend on market rates, according to the RDFFG, and as with other Fraser-Fort George Endowment Funds, it would be a minimum of three years from the date of the second $50,000 contribution to the fund before there would be sufficient funds available for granting.
In the case of the Robson Valley-Canoe Community Endowment Fund, this would mean organizations would not be able to access the endowment fund until 2020, roughly.
“The endowment fund encourages groups to work together, and it encourages community conversations,” – RDFFG Director Dannielle Alan
A big benefit to the endowment fund, according to Alan, is applicants don’t have to fit specific criteria as they do with other funding programs.
Anytime the RDFFG runs a surplus or anyone from the Robson Valley wants to donate to the fund, Alan says they can invest in the community endowment fund, aka the Robson Valley’s savings account. When community members want to work on a community-related project, they can request money from the fund.
Endowment funds support local social, cultural and environmental needs in communities, according to Director Alan’s report, but specifically, what types of projects would the fund translate into?
“It would be for individual groups to decide,” says Alan. “For example… if somebody wants to create a public art project and they need a little bit of seed money, they can go to the endowment fund.”
The Prince George Community Foundation will manage the investment of the permanent money invested into all RDFFG Endowment Funds, of which there are now six, according to the RDFFG website.
Director Alan says another hoop applicants will have to jump through is being sponsored by a registered charity. This is how the McBride and Prince George Community Foundation(s) work — and who are also managing this endowment fund — as applicants use charitable organizations with mandates that fit a proposed project.
“It encourages groups to work together, and it encourages community conversations,” says Alan.
The endowment fund, according to Alan, is not geocentric, meaning people in Dome Creek and Dunster can apply, or anyone in the district, for that matter.
In 2008, The RDFFG entered Endowment Fund Agreements with Electoral Areas A, C, E, F and G and the Prince George Community Foundation, according to Director Alan’s report, leaving out only Areas D and H.
Director Alan says Electoral Areas D and H were originally left out simply because, “it was the decision that was made at the time.”
“This is something beyond an election cycle,” says Director Alan. “This is about the future sustainability of our valley.”