By Andru McCracken

Six projects are seeking public support for funding from the annual Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program. This year the fund is undersubscribed. There are $174,000 in grants applications of more than $250,000 in funding. Usually grant applicants present their project to the public at the Valemount Secondary School Theatre, but this year, thanks to COVID-19, the process is being held online, with public feedback welcomed until March 25th via online survey (link here).

Valemount Cares
The largest proposalâ€for $86,775â€seeks to supercharge the Valemount Cares seniors housing project. Roughly half of the funds sought by the Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society, would be used for a technical and financial feasibility study to determine whether their proposed seniors’ residence could be developed into a Net Zero building. Net Zero means that the building would generate as much energy (through solar and geothermal heating) as it would use in a year.

The other half of the funds would be used to complete a ‘preliminary site assessment’ and to ‘seek assistance from consultants, architects and engineers to make grant applications to build the common areas.’

Laurel McKirdy, one of the project proponents, said that while individual housing units will be largely funded by BC Housing and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, their intent is to offer services that make aging in place easier and better for seniors.

McKirdy said that communal spaces are a key element of their proposal and this is what distinguishes the Valemount Cares project from existing facilities.

“That’s one of the problems at the Golden Years. It is sort of accessible but not really. If you go to help somebody in the bathroom there is no room,” she said. The new facility will be geared to the challenges seniors are facing in Valemount.

“When you need more help, we can add more help,” she said.

The Valemount Cares’ online powerpoint presentation featured a race between a tortoise and a hair, the last slide pictured the two crossing the finish line, but McKirdy said there is still much more work to be done on the seniors’ residence.

“We’re on the finish line”¦ of the first lap,” she said.

VARDA, the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association is seeking $40,380 for a project worth $138,380 which would build four new mountain bike trails and a skills development park. The park has raised $25,000 from members and fundraisers.

“Our goal has always been to add a trail for everyone from each staging area, and with your help, we are reaching that goal,” said Manager Curtis Pawliuk in his presentation.

Pawliuk said they hope to add a new green trail in the traditional bike park area on 5 Mile, ensuring that there is something every level of rider can manage.

They also hope to build a new advanced trail (black) in order to encourage separation between advanced riders and new riders and families.

The skills development zone is a place for riders to develop skills.

“The area will have staggered table top jumps and balance features where riders can slowly work on their skill progression.”

Pawliuk said their ask of the community initiatives is relatively low because of overwhelming financial support and volunteer in-kind labour.

Spay & Neuter
The Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society is asking for $5,000 to vaccinate, spay or neuter 15 family cats, seven stray cats, as well as six family dogs. The society typically pays the whole cost for treating strays and half the cost of fixing family pets. The society advocates for spaying and neutering animals because of the benefits to the animals themselves and the community.

Valemount Legion
The Valemount Royal Canadian Legion Branch 266 is asking for $3,000 to upgrade their bar service area. They say current shelves are difficult to clean and use.

They are hoping to install epoxy coated stainless steel shelving and a new fridge to make bartending easier.

“When preparing specialty drinks “¦ the bartender must leave the bar and go into the cooler behind her to get the ingredients”¦,” according to their presentation.

Leaving the bar unattended and constantly opening the walk in cooler are both causes for concern. The Legion hopes to purchase an under-counter fridge for the bar area to ameliorate this.

Valemount daycare
The Valemount Children Activity Society is applying for $10,000 to expand their capacity to serve infants and toddlers. The childcare organization said they will be able to take on up to four more infants and toddlers by dividing their daycare room in half. Full-day childcare for infants and toddlers is in demand in the community.

“Adding four more spaces would greatly benefit families in the valley.”

Climbing Club
A new non-profit society is hoping to get a grant for $28,450 to bring a brand new facility and sport to town. John Crowley is a founding director of the Valemount Climbing Club.

“We are shooting for a bouldering gym right now,” said Crowley. “Bouldering is accessible, cheap and safe.”

Crowley has been thinking and talking about a climbing facility for more than a decade, but it’s a demographic change over the last five years that has given rise to the project.

The club hopes to secure the commercial space east of the VARDA building where the V-Crew youth centre and previously the Valley Sentinel offices used to be.

“The goal is to get people interested in climbing and having another sport to do that is not dependent on the weather,” he said.

Crowley said that the only gear required to use a bouldering gym is a set of climbing shoes (used shoes can be had for $40). He said the cost of entry is a fraction of other sports on offer.

Crowley said there is provincial funding available for coaching and youth programmingâ€but it’s not just for kids.

“What other activity can you do as an adult in the evenings in Valemount that doesn’t involve drinking?” he asked.

He said the gym would have tiers of membership, catering to occasional drop-ins and people who would like to have unlimited access.

The grant money requested will secure a lease until the end of 2021, allowing them to have the design and engineering of the bouldering gym done and to create a financial plan.

Crowley said if they are successful in this grant, they could be in a position to open the facility in 2022. The funding to build the bouldering gym could come from a recreation facility grant stream from the Northern

Development Initiative Trust or possibly the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiative program next year.

The group plans to have their first annual general meeting this fall.