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Two Haida Gwaii communities receive more than $950K for 3 projects

Funding will support food sovereignty and transportation
Parliamentary secretary Roly Russell, Masset mayor Barry Pages and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice announced on July 6 that Masset will be receiving a StrongerBC funding rural development grant. (Photo: supplied)

Masset and Old Massett will benefit from more than $950,000 for three projects to boost tourism and food production in northern Haida Gwaii, the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation announced on July 6.

“Supporting communities with what they know they need is key to building a thriving and diverse rural network of communities,” said Roly Russell, parliamentary secretary for Rural Development and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.

More than $540,000 will be used to replace the seaplane float and access ramp in Masset Harbour. The newly built terminal will also include a float for the nearby public boat launch.

“It’s the first thing people see when they come into Masset, and so we’re very appreciative of the province with respect to this,” Masset Mayor Barry Pages said.

“It’s going to be a big help in making the community look a bit better and improving transportation linkages to the rest of British Columbia.”

There is also funding to support two local food production projects. Fifty thousand dollars will go to finish the Masset Market building and more than $360,000 is for Old Massett Council to build a commercial hydroponics greenhouse as part of their year-round food-growing project.

“For G̱aw Tlaagee, Old Massett, introducing a hydroponic greenhouse creates a more sustainable way to grow crops year-round and embark on new commercial endeavours that will greatly benefit our community,” Donald Edgars, chief councillor at Old Massett Village Council said. “We re-learned how vulnerable we are with food sovereignty through COVID-19, and being dependent on the ferries and economic shifts.”

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who was on the island for the announcement, said when she asked for chicken at the grocery store on the weekend, the meat cutter laughed before explaining that they don’t have chicken on the weekends. Poultry arrives on Monday and is gone in a few days.

“Anything we can do to support food security, such as the farmer’s market and the greenhouse, I think those are really good investments. It speaks to the values of the people that live here and desire those types of projects,” Rice said.

Mayor Pages added that the Masset Market has increased safety and is supporting a local food production economy. Before a building existed for the market, there were tables out in the middle of the street, making it quite congested.

“Now they have a place to actually headquarter out of, and it’s made significant safety improvements.”

The funding will be used to buy materials to finish the Masset Market building and to buy kitchen equipment. Once completed, it will serve as the home of Masset’s farmer’s market and studio/gallery space for an artisans co-operative.

The three infrastructure grants are part of the StrongerBC rural development program. Through this grant stream, the Province aims to support economic growth that addresses climate change and inequality.

“I’m excited about these projects because they represent that,” Russell said. “They represent ways to spur on and open up economic opportunities in these communities in a way that is inclusive and is sustainable.”

READ MORE: North Coast MLA addresses BC Ferries cancellations

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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