Accessible, outdoor spaces that bring people together and create social connections are more important than ever — right now they are some of the few places we can see friends or meet in person. Since 2015 the Co-op Community Spaces Program has been funding projects that do just that, so their track record is strong and their contribution to the community landscape is considerable. This year they will continue to do so this year with another round of funding.
Projects can apply for $25,000 – $150,000. Over the last four years, South Island recipients have included Victoria’s FED Urban Learning Garden ($56,000), the Swan Lake Floating Boardwalk ($75,225) and Duncan’s HUB at Cowichan Station ($66,000).
The funded projects bring long term benefits to the communities they are embedded in, creating multiple opportunities for programming and new initiatives.
The Food Eco District (FED) received funding in 2018 to develop the Urban Learning Garden in the courtyard of the Greater Victoria Public Library on Broughton Street. The experimental garden started with a refurbishment of the existing concrete planters and now features a pollinator and planting of native species and a perennial garden. Brianna Stewart, Project Manager at FED hopes to transform the square into a community space to gather and learn. An educational partnership with Lifecycles will increase engagement through programming.
Applications from across Western Canada are assessed by a central team from the Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). The means that there will not always be a recipient on the Island, as was the case last year. But Lindsay Gaudette, director of marketing and community relations at Peninsula Co-op, encourages applicants from the region: “The more requests are coming from our area, the better the chances are that one of our local ones will be picked. It’s more money coming into our area to create great public spaces and public programming.”
The FCL is looking for projects that fall into three categories: recreation, environmental conservation and urban agriculture. These themes have remained consistent since the program’s inception.
Applications are due by 1 March and are open to registered charities and non-profit organizations, non-profit organizations partnered with their municipal government and community service co-operatives.