The Resilient Streets program is underway, and Whistlerites are already well on their way to developing projects aimed at increasing community engagement.
"There's all kinds of research that talks about how human connection can settle the nervous system," said Greg McDonnell, a registered clinical counsellor who recently won a planning grant through the program.
The new program offers a $50 planning grant that can be used to host or advertise a community gathering aimed at developing a community initiative and a $200 grant to carry it out.
McDonnell, who lives in Spruce Grove, said around 20 members of his strata want to develop a project that will enhance the strata's community garden.
Dan Wilson, a community planning and monitoring specialist with the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, said the program aims to build connections and combat isolation.
"It's about people getting money to do cool things with their neighbours, and building a stronger community," he said.
On April 23, Wilson facilitated a well-attended kickoff event at the Whistler Racquet Club. During the event, he discussed potential projects.
These include events and gatherings with an educational component and "sharing projects" (such as shared work spaces, and community libraries).
The money could also be used for "place-making" projects, designed to encourage a sense of community and liven up neighbourhoods.
So far, Resilient Streets has given out eight of the $50 planning grants and two $200 planning grants. The grants are distributed on a "first come, first served" basis, with an initial deadline of June 15 for the first round. Whistlerites are still able to apply.
Resilient Streets is primarily funded by the B.C. Ministry of Health, along with a $3,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW).
According to Carol Coffey, executive director of the CFOW, working with Resilient Streets was a good fit for the organization.
"It's all about building connections and bringing people together, and because our Vital Signs (report) is all about connections and engagement, there seemed to be some great overlap," she said.
The CFOW recently announced it is investing $219,000 into local organizations.
This includes $50,000 to the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) to ensure its continued role in protecting the local natural environment through innovative educational initiatives.
In an interview with Pique, AWARE's executive director, Claire Ruddy, said $40,000 will go to five different projects, with $10,000 allocated for capacity support.
"Last year we started a Whistler nature camp," she explained.
"The whole idea is getting kids outside, and learning about nature ... The program was really successful last year and we're trying to expand it so we can get more kids involved in nature," she said.
Ruddy also appreciated the $10,000 for capacity funding, saying it is vital for non-profits.
"It allows you to be responsive to the needs in the community," she said. "You can delve deep into some of the issues and build relationships and partnerships that can allow you to then build programs."
To learn more about the Resilient Streets program, or to apply for a grant, visi www.whistlercentre.ca/resilient-streets.