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Community forest funds benefit organizations

Over 500000 available for proposals submitted by organizations
Laura Walz

Representatives of Powell River Community Forest Ltd. presented a dividend cheque to City of Powell River officials at the June 16 council meeting.

Directors Janet May, Rod Tysdal and Rob Jones accompanied Greg Hemphill, board president, in presenting a cheque for $501,947. The dividends from 2010 are deposited into the city’s community forest reserve account, which was established by bylaw. Funds are to be used for special community projects that will benefit the community has a whole. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 dividends totalling $929,343 were used for the athletic track at Timberlane.

Hemphill said the community forest board has made recommendations for how the 2010 dividend funds should be distributed. He suggested $320,000 from the fund be used to support three community projects:

• Powell River Curling Club, for roof replacement, ceiling installation and lighting, $104,000.

• Powell River Gymnastics Society, for exterior cladding and upgrading entrances, $120,000.

• Powell River Kings, for new seats, a scoreboard and clock in the Hap Parker Arena at Powell River Recreation Complex, $94,000.

The curling club’s building is 50 years old, Hemphill pointed out. “The club has done a great job getting solid footing for the membership,” he said. “The roof was always an albatross and I think it’s a good investment to get that fixed. Obviously in today’s economy it would be very difficult to build a freestanding curling club on its own.”

The club has raised a significant amount of money for the project, Hemphill said, as well as receiving grants from the Canadian Curling Association and BC Hydro.

Marlene Hall, curling club president, said with the project going forward, the group will not be closing its doors. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Powell River Community Forest for considering us in your recommendations,” she said. “Thank you to council for also considering us.”

School District 47 is retaining ownership of the former Max Cameron Secondary School gymnasium and leasing it to the Powell River Gymnastics Society. Debbie Thistlethwaite, a member of the society’s board, also thanked Hemphill, city council and Powell River’s Board of Education. “Everybody has really pulled together for us and it has made a huge difference,” she said. “We are able to keep our gym open.”

First Credit Union is contributing $30,000 for the arena project, Hemphill said, which is part of a larger proposal that includes a mezzanine and box seats. Joe Mastrodonato, representing the Kings, also thanked the two organizations for supporting the proposal. The scoreboard is five feet high by 12 feet long and has four sides, he explained. “It’s a good project,” he said. “We’d really like to go forward with the rest of the plan. The mezzanine and lounge at the south end of the arena will be a huge asset for all community groups. We hope to work on that in the near future.”

Council passed a motion approving the community forest’s recommendations.

Hemphill noted that $180,000 was left from the 2010 dividend cheque and the community forest was only about six months away from the 2011 dividend. “Our board and city staff will be collaborating on an ongoing basis over the next few months developing a list of projects for the rest of the reserve fund,” he said.

The community forest has provided information on its website for community organizations that may wish to submit a project proposal.

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