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Improvements coming to Wistaria Hall

Work to lengthen life of structure
Shown here in 1925, shortly after its construction, the modern-day version of the Wistaria Hall is to undergo improvements to lengthen its life. Photo courtesy the Lakes District Museum.

The Wistaria Community Hall on the Southside is to have its foundation improved thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society.

First built in 1922, the hall has been a focus of community activities ever since and is now managed under the umbrella of the Tweedsmuir Recreation Commision.

It has been renovated and has had work done on it over the years with a recent $30,000 project being financed by the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

This newest grant from the development fund society is part of a $293,764 distribution for seven projects in the region.

The District of Vanderhoof is getting $54,787 to widen the apron at the Vanderhoof airport and it’s also getting $30,000 to assist in the construction of a skate park as well as $30,000 to continue efforts to expand recreation by developing a multi-use sports field.

Another grant of $50,000 is going to Nechako Valley Search and Rescue for the construction of a three-bay garage to house the new Mobile Command Centre, a rescue truck and various rescue vehicles.

Fraser Lake is getting $28,977 to help construct a heated garage to house the community bus which brings in residents from surrounding communities to the village twice a week for medical appointments, shopping and other services.

And Fraser Lake is also getting $60,000 for a new high efficiency cooling system for the arena at Fraser Lake.

“The [development fund] board of directors is pleased to support this diverse group of funding requests that will enhance the business, recreational and safety needs of the communities,” said Wayne Salewski, the chair of the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society.

Kitamaat Development Fund Society was jointly established in 1997 with a combined contribution of $15 million by the government of British Columbia and the former Alcan Inc., now Rio Tinto.

The fund’s investment area includes lands affected by the original Kemano project and focuses on the communities in the Ootsa, Lakes, Nechako and Haisla regions of the north.

The fund has distributed more than $10 million since the society began operating and over the years has approved more than 330 project grants in its coverage area.

The society’s board is made up of representatives of First Nations, the province and Rio Tinto, as well as long-time area residents.

It arose out of a settlement ended a legal battle sparked when the province cancelled the already-approved Kemano Completion Project following widespread concerns over the project’s environmental and other impacts.

The project would have increased the amount of hydro-electricity produced so Alcan could increase its Kitimat aluminum smelting capacity.

Alcan spent $1.3 billion before the project was cancelled and was provided with $500 million as compensation by the province.

That 1997 settlement did provide a framework for Rio Tinto’s eventual Kitimat smelter renewal project which last fall celebrated its first year of full production.

The society encourages applications from local governments and legally incorporated non-profit organizations for projects that create sustainable employment, diversify the economy, and improve the basic infrastructure needed for community stability, quality of life and growth, indicates a statement provided by the society.