The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is helping out with a couple of major initiatives in the ColumbiaValley, with RDEK Area F contributing money from its discretionary grant in aid fund to purchase a partition wall for the new Columbia Valley Centre, and with the RDEK partnering on a pair of grant applications with GreenwayTrail Alliance to help build the planned Westside Legacy Trail.

Greenways is busy at work on applications to the BC Rural Dividend program and to the provincial Ministry ofTransportation’s Bike BC program for funding for the 25-kilometre paved trail that will run along the west side of Lake Windermere between Invermere and Fairmont Springs.

RDEK planner Andrew McLeod told The Echo that the RDEK will submit the Bike BC grant application on behalf of Greenways, since only local governments are eligible to apply to that program. He explained that Greenways will submit the Rural Dividend grant application on its own, but with the RDEK as a partner, as having a local government as a partner increases the amount of funding a project is eligible for.

“There’s good news with both these applications,” Greenways executive director Mark Halwa told The Echo.

“To start, the Rural Dividend program has a brand new funding stream specifically for trails, called DestinationTrail Projects,” said Halwa, adding the Westside Legacy Trail fits perfectly into the parameters for this new funding stream.

The other piece of good news, according to Halwa, is that the Bike BC grant application intake, which was in the spring last year, has been moved up to this month, which fits in nicely with the Legacy Trail’s schedule.

“We believe that, in conjunction with having a lot of the permitting issues behind us, will lead to successful grant applications,” he said.

The Alliance will apply for $500,000 worth of funding from the Rural Dividend program, and $1 million from theBike BC program.

The other large infrastructure project currently in the works in the valley the new multi-use centre known asthe Columbia Valley Centre will receive more than $95,000 in funding from the RDEK Area F discretionarygrant in aid account for a partition wall that will allow multiple groups to use the centre at once, a decision thatwas made because the entire Columbia Valley will benefit, said Area F director Wendy Booth.

“The new multi-use centre is a regional facility and the residents and guests from the entire valley will use it.The partition wall was one of the extra items that was not included in the original budget. With funding securedat this time, it ensures that the wall will be installed and usable when the facility opens,” Ms. Booth told TheEcho. “I have been involved in this project since the design phase and I’m happy how it is progressing and gladthat the partition wall has now been fully funded.”

“Invermere pays the bulk of the cost for the centre, but the facility is of benefit to the whole valley, so we havebeen asking for a bit of help, in this case with the partition wall,” Invermere mayor Gerry Taft said. “The wall isone of the extras, but we know it is pretty important to have, so that the facility can be used for multiple thingsat the same time. We really appreciate the support. It’s a great example of regional co-operation.”

The new centre is currently under construction, and construction on the Westside Legacy Trail will begin as soonas enough funding is secured.