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Regional board considers wildlife program sponsorship

Committee responds to request for seed money and facilities

Powell River Regional District directors authorized a contribution of $2,500 to WildSafeBC in 2015 to assist in securing a paid coordinator position for the WildSafeBC Program in Powell River. The board passed the authorization at its Thursday, November 27, meeting.

The board also authorized in-kind assistance by allowing occasional use of the regional district boardroom for office-related activities.

The decision stemmed from a presentation in October by Sergeant Murray Smith, BC Conservation Officer Service field supervisor for the Sunshine Coast zone, who put forward a proposal for the regional district to provide seed funding for a coordinator in Powell River. With local support, an application could be sent to WildSafe BC, a program run by BC Conservation Foundation, for a funded coordinator position for Powell River. Previous applications had been made to the Bear Aware program, the predecessor to WildSafe BC, but, although local support funding was available, applications were turned down at the provincial level and a long-term funded program was not established.

At the committee of the whole meeting in November, members recommended endorsement of the program designed to help people and wildlife co-exist.

Under the new program, which encompasses all wildlife, not just bears, with a $2,500 contribution and in-kind donations to sponsor the program, the province will provide $10,000 for a six-month position. There is provision for community groups to donate funds to extend the program.

Colin Palmer, board chair and Electoral Area C director, said he liked the suggestion on a report from regional district staff that regional district go with a grant-in-aid financial proposal for sponsorship.

“If we don’t, it could come back to haunt us in future years,” he said. “This is just the general grant-in-aid and we can always insist it is year by year if future boards want to continue.”

Patrick Brabazon, Electoral Area A director and chair of the committee of the whole, said when the topic was put to the regional district, it was pointed out that other regional districts are funding the program from parks budgets.

“The choice here is general grant-in-aid or the parks budget.”

The funds will be allocated from the general grant-in-aid service.

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