Burns Lake Community Forest board to help local society

The Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society (LORS) is in desperate need of a funding source to enable them to continue to maintain 28 local recreation sites, nine trails and two provincial parks.

Our recreation sites in the Lakes District

Our recreation sites in the Lakes District

The Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society (LORS) is in desperate need of a funding source to enable them to continue to maintain 28 local recreation sites, nine trails and two provincial parks.

LORS president Lynne Synotte said to Comfor Management Services Ltd. (CMSL) that if the non profit society does not raise an additional $29,500 this year they will be forced to abandon their maintenance program.

In a grant funding application, Synotte said that the Lakes District’s back country recreation sites and trails are of immense economic, social and recreational worth to the community.

“The use [of the sites] by local residents and visitors contributes approximately $250,000 annually to our local economy,” she wrote.

“Our society has now exhausted all sources of available funds,” she added.

According to Synotte, LORS was formed 10 years ago when the government pulled funding for recreation and trail mantennece in the region.

Since that time the society has hired a least two contractors annually to maintain the sites.

In the application LORS requested CMSL fund the $29,500 shortfall for 2011.

“For many years Burns Lake Community Forest contributed $25,000 per year to LORS for the maintenance of recreation sites and trails in the Lakes District, however in past years, the company has only donated up to 40 hours of Burns Lake Community Forest manager Dawn Stronstad’s time,” Synotte wrote.

LORS has approached the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, West Fraser Timber in Fraser Lake as well as Hampton Affiliates for funding to keep the recreation sites open and maintained.

“To date we have received $6,000 in donations from these organizations [$5,000 from Hampton Affiliates and $1,000 from an anonymous donor] and $5,000 of in kind goods and services from the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations,” Synotte wrote.

CMSL board director Eileen Benedict said the project seemed like a perfect fit for funding from CMSL.

“I don’t think this should be just one time funding, I think we should set something up for every year so that the group has some sort of stable funding in place. I also think that the province needs to step up to the plate and provide some funding towards this, but in the meantime I would like to provide a funding commitment to the group for a maximum of two to three years,” Benedict said.

“Those are good comments and I actually agree,” said CMSL president Quentin Beach.

Burns Lake Community Forest general manager Dawn Stronstad said that while the group needs $25,500 this year to maintain the recreation sites the total amount needed each year is $40,000.

“This amount covers 17 weeks from the end of May to September,” she said.

“The use of these campsites contributes to the local economy so I think it is important that they have support,” said Beach.

“In 2008 the Burns Lake Community Forest funded almost the entire project,” said Stronstad adding that in 2009 they were successful in receiving funding from the Job Opportunities Program to help LORS. Last year the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts supplied LORS with some funding,” Stronstad said.

“Our recreation sites are some of the best maintained in the province. Tourists come and spend their dollars here fishing, hunting and camping and then they tell their friends who come here the next year, it really puts us on the map,” she added.

“How can we do this … set up some funding,” Benedict asked.

Michael Riis Christianson, CMSL staff member said that CMSL does have adequate funding in their priority one account to cover the full amount requested by LORS.

“You have to remember that our funding pots are not being topped up though,” he added.

“It may not be that full amount of funding needed if money comes from the province,” Stronstad said.

CMSL alternate director Dan George said, “It is really not that much money for the benefits that we get out of it. If the government does provide some money towards the project the society could put that in an account to use for years ahead.”

“I would still encourage them to apply for federal funding,” Benedict said.

Beach said that there are other funding sources in the community that the group could also consider. “Pinnacle Pellet is coming on line and what about Rio Tinto Alcan, they have a Burns Lake office in town,” asked Beach.

Alternate director Grant Conlon also suggested that LORS try asking Huckleberry Mine and Endako Mine for funding. “It said in the paper [Lakes District News] last week that Endako Mine funds Burns Lake projects,” he said.

A motion was made to support LORS with $25,500 in 2011 and a further [provisional] $40,000 for 2012 and 2013 providing LORS seeks funding from other sources including the government in 2012 and 2013.

The motion was unanimously approved by the board.