BC Rural Dividend Program Details

The BC Rural Dividend is providing up to $25 million a year to assist rural communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with a population of 25,000 or less to strengthen and diversify their local economies. It was developed to recognize both the contribution rural communities have made to B.C.’s economy, and the unique challenges they face to diversify beyond natural resources.

The Rural Dividend is administered by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. 

  1. Increase community resilience and support economic development and diversification through enabling rural communities to implement their vision for long-term vibrancy, as well as prepare and respond to economic disruptions.
  2. Support Indigenous communities and organizations to develop and lead traditional and/or emerging economic opportunities, including in the natural resource sector.
  3. Strengthen the capacity of small and remote communities to address unique challenges in realizing their economic potential.
  4. Assist rural communities to pursue innovative economic opportunities that support climate mitigation and/or adaptation for a cleaner future for BC.

Applications must demonstrate how the proposed project will take place in or directly benefit either:

  • Indigenous or non-Indigenous communities with a population of 25,000 or less, located outside the geographic boundaries of Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District.*
  • Unincorporated areas with a population of 25,000 people or less.

Population size will be determined using Statistics Canada 2016 Census Data (http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E). Communities with populations up to 500 over the limit are eligible to apply.

* Communities within the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, Salt Spring Island Electoral Area and the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Areas are eligible to apply for funding (as defined on the Capital Regional District website – www.crd.bc.ca)

Local Government

  • A municipal government, or regional district, established by or under B.C. legislation with a population of 25,000 people or less.
  • An unincorporated area with a population of 25,000 people or less whose application is submitted through a regional district or a not-for-profit organization.*

* An unincorporated area/community, for the purpose of application to the program, is considered to be a settlement area within a regional district electoral area. A community’s boundaries may also coincide with a service area boundary (existing or proposed).

Indigenous Communities and Organizations

  • A First Nations band council within the meaning of Section 2 of the federal Indian Act or any successor to a band council established under federal legislation, governing body of treaty First Nations, Nisga’a Lisims Government and a Nisga’a Village Government
    • First Nations band councils with at least one rural reserve are eligible to apply for projects that will take place in, or directly benefit, the rural portion of their community.
    • First Nations band councils that do not include a rural reserve are not eligible applicants. However, in unique situations such communities can submit applications for projects that will take place in, or directly benefit, a rural area.
  • A First Nations, Métis, or Inuit organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation or society formed under an Act of Canada or a province or territory of Canada, and in good standing under the relevant Act.
  • A corporation controlled by a First Nation incorporated under an Act of Canada, or a province or territory of Canada, and in good standing under the relevant Act.

Not-for-profit Organization

  • An organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation or society formed under an Act of Canada or a province or territory of Canada and in good standing under the relevant Act.
  • Not-for-profit co-operatives incorporated as community service co-ops under the B.C. Co-operative Association Act are considered eligible as a not-for-profit organization.
  • Not-for-profit organizations must have a B.C. location and be active in the Province.
  • Not-for-profit organizations that have received significant foundational funding from the Province are not eligible applicants.

The partnership funding stream of the Rural Dividend Program is intended to support collaboration between communities to pursue regional economic development and diversification projects. Applications to the partnership funding stream are required to provide detail regarding the role that each partner will play in the development and implementation of the project. Applications that do not clearly demonstrate that a strong partnership will take place may not be approved for funding through the stream.

Eligible partners include local governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations (including universities and colleges).

For-profit entities can serve as partners with an eligible applicant as long as the proposed project identifies broad community benefits and does not negatively impact other businesses.

The partner(s) must have an active role in the project but are not required to contribute financially. Organizations that are only providing funding to a project but will take no further role are not eligible partners.

Partners will not be considered eligible if they are owned by or own the applicant organization. Additionally, partners will be deemed ineligible if they and the applicant are owned by the same entity.

Individuals are not considered eligible partners.

All partners listed in the application are required to provide a partnership letter to the Rural Dividend confirming their role and commitment to the project. Projects submitted to the partnership funding stream without partnership letters will be ineligible for funding.

1. Community Capacity Building

  • Projects that build the resources, capabilities and capacities of communities to deal with their key economic challenges and changes.
  • Projects that provide or improve a community’s potential services to support economic diversity, expand market accessibility and enhance quality of life to attract investment.
  • Examples: Business Plans, Feasibility Studies and Capital Investment Strategies.

2. Workforce Development

  • Projects that offer training and skills development opportunities.
  • Projects that help ensure resilience in the local workforce by attracting, retaining and training workers.
  • Examples: Skills Development and Training programs, Educational Needs Assessments, Entrepreneur and Business Development Initiatives, Resident Attraction Plans/Projects.

3. Community and Economic Development

  • Projects that help rural communities plan to build a foundation for economic development, economic resilience and/or growth, or improve community vibrancy.
  • Projects that implement strategies or initiatives to support economic development, resilience, diversification or growth.
  • Examples: Destination Trail Projects, Economic Development Plans and Strategies, Community Economic Development projects, Tourism Master Plans, Agricultural Development Plans.

4. Business Sector Development

  • Projects that increase new business creation, business growth and adaptability in the community.
  • Projects that allow communities to retain existing businesses and encourage their expansion.
  • Examples: Business Plans, Marketing Strategies, Market Studies, Pilots for New Enterprises, Incubation Projects, Succession Planning.

Project Development - Maximum Funding of $10,000

  • Support for communities with limited capacity to undertake preliminary work (e.g. feasibility assessments and business cases) to develop strong future projects.
  • Eligible applicants can apply for up to 100% of total project cost.
  • An approved project development grant does not provide a guarantee of funding in subsequent applications submitted to government of B.C funding programs.

Single Applicant - Maximum Funding of $100,000

  • Supports implementation of community-driven projects.
  • Eligible applicants must contribute at least 20% of the total project cost via financial or in-kind contributions (maximum 10% in-kind contribution).
  • Eligible applicants can apply for up to 80% of the total project cost to maximum of $100,000.

Partnerships - Maximum Funding of $500,000

  • Supports implementation of community-driven projects.
  • Eligible applicant must have at least one eligible partner.
  • Eligible applicants and eligible partners must contribute at least 40% of total project cost via financial or in-kind contributions (maximum 10% in-kind contribution).
  • Eligible applicants can apply for up to 60% of the total project cost to a maximum of $500,000.

*In-kind contributions include goods and services donated to a project by the applicant and/or partners (e.g. staff time, use of space or equipment). These types of contributions should be at fair market value. 

Each application must include the following mandatory supporting documentation, which will be submitted through the online application form. All mandatory supporting documentation must be specific to the legal entity applying for funding and may not be from a related organization such as a parent company or subsidiary.

  • Financial statements: See next section for details.
  • Budget: All applicants must complete the program budget form
  • Resolution: All applicants must complete a Council/Organization resolution (included in the application form).
  • Articles of Incorporation: Only required for Indigenous and non-Indigenous not-for-profit organizations and First Nations Corporations. Documents must include the applicant’s legal name and business number and can be Articles of Incorporation or the most recently filed Annual Report.
  • Partnership letters: Only required for applicants to the partnership funding stream. Letters must confirm the partner’s role and commitment to the project.

*Failure to submit the mandatory supporting documentation will result in the ineligibility of the application.

Applicants must provide the financial statements identified for the requested funding amount. Financial statements that meet the requirement for a higher funding amount will also be accepted.

  • Financial statements must be specific to the legal entity applying for funding and may not be from a related organization.
  • Financial statements submitted must be in the final approved form, including signatures from the CPA who prepared them and organization representatives.
  • Applicants must submit current financial statements (i.e. those which have been prepared within the past year).
  • Financial statements must be submitted in their entirety; partial documents will not be accepted.

Levels of Required Financial Statements

Internally Prepared / Notice to Reader Financial Statements ($0–$50,000)

  • Statements must be signed by two board members and include (1) a balance sheet from the previous fiscal year; (2) revenue and expense statements from the previous fiscal year; and (3) all notes pertaining to the financial statements. Financial statements prepared by an accountant (often referred to as “Notice to Reader” Financial Statements) are considered equivalent to internally prepared financial statements and should be provided if available.

Review Engagement Financial Statements ($50,001–$100,000)

  • Statements must be prepared by an independent public accountant on a review basis. The accountant will not express an opinion on the fairness of the financial statements but must provide a limited assurance that the financial information is plausible and conforms to generally accepted accounting principles.

Audited Financial Statements ($100,001–$500,000)

  • Statements must be prepared by an independent public accountant and include the examination of accounting records and other supporting evidence to render a professional opinion that the financial statements present a fair picture of the organization’s financial position and its activities during the period in which the audit was carried out.

Failure to submit the correct financial statements for the requested funding amount will result in ineligibility.Please contact the Program Office if you have any questions regarding this requirement.

Eligible applications will be assessed and ranked based on the program’s assessment components included in the table below.

Rural Dividend Assessment Components
  Assessment Components
Project Application

› Aligns with one or more of the updated program objectives (see Section 2 of the Program Guide for additional details) as demonstrated by the application and supporting documents.

› Describes the details of the project clearly and concisely, including project activities and the community(ies) that will directly benefit.  

› Provides detailed project components and related deliverables, with clear timelines, to illustrate how they will be completed successfully within the two-year time limit.

› Identifies the community(ies) in which project activities will take place or that will directly benefit from the project. 

Project Budget

› Contains detailed descriptions of costs that are accurate estimates (supporting documentation such as quotes from contractors can be included to support the project budget).

› Demonstrates costs are direct and essential to project implementation and are clearly linked to project activities described in the application.

› Indicates clearly that costs assigned to Rural Dividend funding meet the program’s eligibility criteria.

*Please note that inclusion of ineligible costs, including exceeding the program’s limits on infrastructure and capital costs, will impact the assessment of the application and may result in ineligibility.

Project Feasibility

› Demonstrates that the project has the support of the community and Indigenous communities.

› Provides strong linkages between project activities and community planning.

› Demonstrates that the project has been thoroughly planned and is ready for implementation.

› Includes detailed information on any permits, permissions or other steps that are required for the project to be implemented and completed.

Due Diligence › Adjudicators will consult with subject matter experts and other funding sources within government to ensure a project’s viability.
Financial Review › Adjudicators will review applicant financial statements to identify risk level and ensure the stability of an organization and its ability to implement the project.
Impact on Rural Communities

› Identifies how the project is directly linked to the economic needs of a rural community and clearly demonstrates incremental economic benefit.

› Adjudication process will include the consideration of rural communities most in economic need.

The Rural Dividend Program includes a special circumstances provision to support communities facing economic disruption resulting from the loss of a main employer or the impacts of a natural disaster. Communities whose circumstances match this description may contact the program at ruraldividend@gov.bc.ca or by calling 250-356-7950 for further information.

The special circumstances provision is intended to provide funding to applicants to pursue time-sensitive projects that are directly linked to a community’s response to a significant economic disruption. Special circumstances applications are administered outside of the intake period and require applicants to identify a community need tied to a major economic shock, crisis, or loss of a key economic driver.

The following principles outline eligibility for special circumstances:

Special Circumstances Principles
Application Components Eligibility Principles
Eligible Applicants

› To ensure coordination in recovery efforts, eligibility will be limited to local governments and First Nations governments.

› Funding for not-for-profit organizations may be provided only when responsibility is formally delegated by a local or First Nation government.

Eligible Communities

› Rural communities that have been directly or indirectly impacted by the loss of a main employer or natural disaster.

› Communities will remain eligible for up to 24 months from the occurrence of the economic or natural disaster event.

› After 24 months applicants can apply for funding support through regular intake periods.

Eligible Project Scope

› Projects must be directly focused on the planning or implementation of economic transition or recovery projects and linked to the economic or natural disaster event.

› Projects included in community transition or recovery plans will be prioritized for funding. However, inclusion in a recovery plan is not required.

Eligible Project Timelines

› Applicants must clearly demonstrate that the timeline for a proposed project prevents participation in the regular intake process.

› Projects that are not time sensitive in nature will be directed to the regular intake process.

Applicant Contribution

› The required applicant contribution is 20% of the total project cost for requests up to $100,000 and 40% of the total project cost for requests between $100,001 and $500,000.

› The required contribution may be altered in instances where a clear justification is provided by the applicant.

Eligible Costs

› Applications will be subject to the eligible cost categories identified in Section 12, including the limits on infrastructure and capital costs.

› Flexibility in eligible costs may be considered in extreme cases if the project demonstrates significant incremental economic benefit.

› Eligible special circumstances applicants can apply for up to $500,000 in funding for an eligible project

Reporting Requirements

› Funded projects will be subject to the reporting requirements identified in Section 23 of the Program Guide.

› All projects must be completed within a two-year timeframe.