Port Alberni receives Smart Communities grant for new online platform

Online database will link local volunteers with non-profit and charity groups

The City of Port Alberni will be one of four communities across the province receiving funding through British Columbia’s Smart Communities pilot program.

Through this program, the B.C. government is encouraging municipalities to develop and use innovative technology that will transform everyday challenges into sustainable solutions.

The province announced on Thursday, Nov. 8 that Port Alberni will be receiving $28,800 for its proposal to create an online platform to link local volunteers with non-profit and charity groups.

“Port Alberni is well known for having volunteers, but we’ve heard an increasing number of organizations say to us that they are really having trouble recruiting and retaining volunteers,” explained the city’s economic development manager, Pat Deakin.

“We’d like to be able to connect people who are new to the community to these opportunities.”

Deakin said part of the problem is that people are willing to volunteer, but want to make a “shorter time commitment,” and the new online platform will help people find a volunteer opportunity that better fits their availability.

The city will be partnering with a software company called Tandempark, which will assist Port Alberni in developing a database of local opportunities and volunteers.

According to Deakin, Tandempark approached the city about this partnership.

Port Alberni is one of four regions across the province benefitting from projects that will make their communities safer and more connected. The District of Logan Lake will be receiving $38,650 and the City of Prince Rupert will receive $22,120. The municipalities of Castlegar, Nelson, Rossland and Trail submitted a joint proposal, and will receive a total of $40,000.

Other projects include a mobile app for people to access timely emergency information, an online engagement platform to help people participate in local government decision-making and a mobile app for information on road safety, accidents and road closures in the region.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been one of the communities in B.C. accepted to receive the grant,” said Deakin.”It means the adjudicators liked our approach to it. I’m thrilled that, out of all the applicants, we’ve been selected here to give this project a go.”

READ: City of Port Alberni accepts Smart Cities challenge

The B.C. Smart Communities pilot program launched in May 2018 and invited municipalities and First Nations under a population of 30,000 to submit their proposals until July 13. A total of 10 proposals were received.

An evaluation panel reviewed each project proposal and scored them based on whether they met the definition of a smart community, addressed a local need, had consulted with residents and whether the initiative could be accomplished within a one-year timeframe.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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