At the July 8 Clinton council meeting, members of the board of the Clinton and District Community Forest (CDCF) were on hand to distribute more than $250,000 in profits to the Village of Clinton and community organizations. The presentations are normally made at a public community meeting, but that was not possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Every year the CDCF returns 60 per cent of its profits to the Village, and 40 per cent to community groups that have applied for funding. This year the Village received $169,832, with 11 organizations sharing $87,075 in grants. This year’s recipients are:
• Clinton Fall Fun Fest: $3,500 for sponsorship of the 2020 event
• Desert Sands Senior soccer teams: $3,500 for a team shelter and storage shed
• Royal Canadian Legion Branch #194: $500 for the 2020 Kids’ Christmas Party and $3,000 for sponsorship of the seniors’ weekly soup program
• Clinton Ag Association: $10,000 for bleachers at the Clinton Rodeo Grounds and $2,500 for sponsorship of the Clinton Little Britches Rodeo
• Clinton Outdoor Sportsmen Association: $2,500 for a new pit toilet for the Clinton trail system
• Clinton Snow Jockey Club: $2,500 for a new pit toilet for the Clinton ski trails
• Clinton Recreational Youth Hockey Club: $40,000 for a new Zamboni for the 47 Mile Sports Complex
• South Cariboo Historical Museum Society: $7,000 for staffing, displays, events, and marketing for the 2020 season
• Clinton Food Bank: $5,000 for food, rent, and distribution costs
• Fresh Air Cinema Drive-in Movie Night (organized by several local groups and individuals):$1,075 towards a physical distancing-friendly drive-in movie night
• Loon Lake Community Recreational and Agricultural Society: $6,000 for a sea-can for storage for the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department
CDCF Board Chair Robin Fennell says that in addition to the grant funding, the CDCF also supplies firewood to the Psalm 23 Society at 59 Mile and to other residents of the area who need it for heating.
“We bring in trucks of logs, and [Psalm 23] splits it up. They use some, and we supply some to people within the community forest boundary who need it to heat their places. It’s not just for people in Clinton; it’s also for people in need in Loon Lake, 70 Mile, and other places.”
Clinton Mayor Susan Swan says that the Village is very grateful for the annual dividend from the CDCF.
“We really value the community forest; it’s a great asset. Not only do we get the funding; they also control who cuts in our watershed and when, which is a benefit.
“The revenue we get from them can be used for projects we otherwise might not be able to do. When we first started, we talked about restricting [the CDCF funds] to some projects but decided not to.”
High on the Village’s wish list is relocation and rebuilding of the current Public Works yard, which is behind the Clinton Memorial Hall. “We’ve wanted to replace that for a while, so when we get revenue from the community forest we put it aside. We’re also looking for grants so we can get something done there.”
The revenue from the CDCF is especially appreciated since the closure of West Fraser’s Chasm Mill in late summer 2019.
“We weren’t sure what we would get this year because of West Fraser closing,” says Swan. “It’s huge to have the community forest there to fill the gap. We lost tax revenue with the closure of Chasm, and without revenue from the community forest the burden of taxes would be on our residents, as we have no other industry.”
The Village applied for a community forest licence in 2012, and Fennell has been there since the beginning. He’s enthusiastic about the community forest, but says it was a long and difficult process to take the CDCF from an idea to a reality.
“We started with nothing,” he says frankly. “But Steve Law, a forester out of 100 Mile, was on board with it, and Heidi Frank, the Village’s administrative officer, had a background in forestry, and said that maybe [a community forest] was something that would work in the community. Daniela Dyck was on council, and she went to the Community Forest AGM as a council representative. She came back very enthusiastic.”
Fennell says that having someone on council who saw the benefit of a community forest really helped push the idea forward. “That’s what it needs, because it’s for the municipality.
“The government has to say you’re available for a certain amount of cut, and then you have to put the application together. When we started checking we were told that the cut was already spoken for and gone, but we pushed, and finally, it went ahead. It took months to do everything required by the ministry to have all our ducks in a row. We also had to go to the community and get their support, plus reach out to trappers, ranchers, guides, and First Nations. It was a very difficult process.”
However, the end result was more than worth the effort. “As far as I’m concerned, the community forest is the best thing since sliced bread,” says Fennell frankly. “It’s taken a long time, but it’s good for any community if you can get it.”
Applications from local organizations looking for funding are received every year, and the board of seven volunteers evaluates them all before making funding decisions.
“We ask them for a specific amount and what it’s for, and we can give them some or all of what they ask for,” Fennell explains. “At the end of the process, we require a final report. The number of applications varies from year to year, but we try to remind people that we’re here and that they should put in an application.”
He adds that this year, due to COVID-19, the CDCF sent letters to various organizations around Clinton asking if there was anything they required. “We didn’t get many applications, but we wanted to do that because of what was happening, to see if we could help the community more, especially with the mill closing.”
Swan notes that the CDCF board members are all volunteers.
“We’re so grateful for the time they put in. They do a lot of work, and the funding will help other volunteers do more for and in the community. Anything they get from the CDCF goes back to the community in some way. It gives us a lot more events and activities for people in the community and for visitors, and gives the organizations the ability to do more.”
For more information about the Clinton and District Community Forest, including guidelines about applications for funding, visit the website at https://bccfa.ca/clinton-village-of/.