Program Details

The BC Rural Dividend is providing $25 million a year to assist rural communities with a population of 25,000 or less to reinvigorate 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 program will contribute to the strength and sustainability of small rural communities, making them more attractive places to live and work. The program is focused on supporting worthy projects that help rural communities navigate changes impacting their economies, such as attracting and retaining youth, using innovation to drive economic growth, and developing new and effective partnerships to support shared prosperity.

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

  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 community services to support economic diversity, expand market accessibility and enhance quality of life to attract investment.
  1. Workforce Development
  • Projects that offer training and skills development opportunities, especially for youth, so they stay in the community or return if they have left.
  • Projects that help ensure resilience in the local workforce by attracting, retaining and training workers.
  1. Community and Economic Development
  • Projects that help rural communities plan to build a foundation for economic growth or improve community vibrancy.
  • Projects that implement strategies to support economic growth.
  1. 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.

There are three funding streams for the Program, detailed below:

  1. 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.
  1. Single Applicant - Maximum Funding of $100,000
  • Supports implementation of community-driven projects.
  • Eligible applicant must contribute at least 20% of the total project cost via financial or in-kind contributions (maximum 10% in-kind contribution).
  • Eligible applicant can apply for up to 80% of the total project cost to maximum of $100,000.
  1. Partnerships - Maximum Funding of $500,000
  • Supports implementation of community-driven projects.
  • Eligible applicant must have at least one eligible partner.
  • Eligible applicant and eligible partners must contribute at least 40% of total project cost via financial or in-kind contributions (maximum 10% in-kind contribution).
  • Eligible applicant 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. 

The goal of the program is to assist small rural communities across British Columbia. Applications must demonstrate how the proposed project will support either:

  • A community with a population of 25,000 or less, located outside the geographic boundaries of Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District.
  • An unincorporated area with a population of 25,000 people or less.

Population size for all applicant communities will be determined using Statistics Canada 2016 Census Data.

Communities with populations up to 500 over the limit are eligible to apply.

An Eligible Applicant must be legal entity that is either a:

  1. 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.
  1. First Nations
  • A 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 bodies of treaty First Nations, Nisga’a Lisims Government and a Nisga’a Village Government.
  • Projects submitted by First Nations applicants must take place within the geographic boundaries of an eligible community.
  • 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.
  1. 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 BC 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.

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 eligible partners under current Program Guidelines.

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.