New Rural Advisory Program Announced by Island Coastal Economic Trust, with Support from the Province of B.C.

The new Rural Advisory program opens for applications on February 20, 2023.
The new Rural Advisory program opens for applications on February 20, 2023.

(As of February 24, 2023, the Trust received unspent funds from the 2021-22 Rural Recovery Program, re-allocated by the Province of B.C., which has increased total available funding for the Rural Advisory Program to $1.47 million.)


Rural Advisory Program

One-year program will fund Indigenous and rural communities to support local businesses

COURTENAY, 9 February 2023 – Island Coastal Economic Trust announced the Rural Advisory program today, supported by the second round of funding for the Province of British Columbia’s Rural Business and Community Recovery Initiative. The Rural Advisory program will provide funding for new community-based and regional business advisors to support Indigenous and rural businesses and communities impacted by forest policy changes and other economic effects on the forest sector.

“The forestry sector has been at the economic heart of many coastal communities for generations,” says Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “This partnership with the Province comes at a crucial time — we need to shift from high-volume to high-value and find new and innovative ways to transition, diversify, and adapt these economies while safeguarding the jobs of community members and the ecological integrity of our forests.”

Island Coastal Economic Trust will open the Rural Advisory program to applications across its service region on February 20, 2023. Two funding streams are available:

  • Community-based Advisors — 15 available grants of up to $70,000 for Indigenous and rural communities to create a one-year term position that provides community and/or business advisory services; and,
  • Regional Business Advisors — three available grants of up to $100,000 for non-profit business consulting and/or financial services organizations to create a one-year term position that provides specialized and/or sectoral business advisory services.

Advisor positions will support local businesses and communities in their economic diversification and transition process. Services provided will focus on the impacts from changes in forest policy and other economic effects on the forest sector.

“By funding a new round of advisor positions, we’re ensuring rural communities and businesses have access to the supports and help needed as they transition toward building sustainable, resilient economies,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “We are appreciative of Island Coastal Economic Trust’s continued efforts to support inclusive economic development, diversification, and innovation led by Indigenous and rural communities across Vancouver Island and the coast.”

The new Rural Advisory program builds upon the successes and learnings from a previous partnership between the Province of B.C. and Island Coastal Economic Trust that invested in rural economic development recovery from the pandemic. Under the prior program, 37 rural recovery advisors directly secured over $15 million of new investment into economic development and diversification priorities in rural communities across Vancouver Island and the coast.

“With the closure of our pulp mill and the uncertainty in the fishing and forestry industries it is even more crucial for us to explore economic development opportunities,” says Bonnie Danyk, Chief Administrative Officer, Village of Port Alice. “Without the funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust and the Province under the 2021-22 Rural Recovery program, we would not have been able to hire Ryan Nicholson, our Economic Development Coordinator, which would have been a huge loss to the community.”

The Province is providing $1.35 million to Island Coastal Economic Trust to deliver the Rural Advisory Program. This is part of a total $4.5 million commitment by the Province of B.C. being delivered across the province by Island Coastal Economic Trust, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and Economic Trust of the Southern Interior.

The Application Guide, form, and budget worksheet for the Rural Advisory program is now available online.

To learn more, or to schedule a meeting to discuss project eligibility, please contact Hilary Muth, Special and Rural Projects Coordinator for Island Coastal Economic Trust by phone 250-871-7797 or email


About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build an inclusive and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with local organizations in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $58 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $308 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.


Stronger BC

The Government of British Columbia’s StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today, while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economy recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.

Media Contact

Brodie Guy
Island Coastal Economic Trust