By Dan Walton
A $15,000 study will look at whether a shared, staffed commercial kitchen for community groups in the valley is economically feasible, after directors for the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds approved the motion at their Tuesday, October 22nd meeting at the Windermere Fire Hall.
Columbia Valley Food Corridor Project chairman Bill Croft pitched the idea of funding a study to determine if a public food corridor the concept of a shared kitchen where businesses from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen could prepare food for out-of-province export while exceeding B.C. regulations could operate without subsidies.
A motion passed with one condition: that Mr. Croft must apply to Social Enterprise Canada (a federal agency with branches in each province) for his project to qualify as an Enterprising Non-Profit. The kitchen would act as a business incubator for the valley, Mr. Croft explained.
If succesful, the cost of the study would then be split into two $7,500 sums, one from by Community Directed Funds, and the other from Social Enterprise Canada.
Mr. Croft told The Pioneer that he expects a successful outcome in that application. Assuming the study finds the project economically feasible, the ground could be broken for the kitchen by the middle of summer 2014, possibly within the Windermere District Farmers Institutes proposed agricultural park, he said.
Thanks to funding sourced from the Columbia Basin Trust, the Community Directed Funds allocates a total of $200,000 each year to support valley-wide initiatives.
At the start of the meeting, the proposed motion would have granted just $7,500 for the study from the Community Directed Funds, but directors concluded it would be more expedient to award the full amount now. If the food corridors Enterprising Non-Profit Application is succesful, the Directed Funds contribution will drop to $7,500.
Later at the meeting, board members spoke about changes to the funding allocation plan that determines how to channel the $200,000 each year.
The organization identifies its top five priorities, but does not specify how much to weight each of those areas.
Does that mean we split the money 20 per cent between each priority?, asked chair Wendy Booth. Those are unknowns, and thats what we need help with.
The committee also discussed how to go about attracting eligible organizations to seek support. Currently, the committee is susceptible to whoever knocks loudest at the door, member Gerry Taft said.
Members avoided using the word application to describe the formal process of asking for money, but had trouble agreeing how to standardize the procedure. Fear loomed that an application process could give some organizations false hope, as a wait-and-see letter could be misleading.
To iron out the kinks, the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds will be holding a strategic planning session in December before allocating any future funding. The meeting will cost $2,500, and that tab has been picked up by the Columbia Basin Trust.