A pair of Vancouver Island projects are getting a financial boost from Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Port McNeill’s Gate House Theatre and the Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society are benefiting from ICET’s Small Capital Restart Funding Stream.

This new program supports innovative projects that address COVID-related business restart and sustainability opportunities. 

Initiatives that provide timely solutions to current health and safety related operational restrictions and business closures are eligible for up to $15,000 in funding. 

Since early June, 11 communities have received funding support, providing unique community-based solutions.

In Port McNeill, the Gate House Theatre will be bringing moveable drive-in theatres to the North Island, including Port McNeill and neighbouring communities. 

ICET funding will be used to purchase the outdoor theatre equipment package, which includes a projector, inflatable screen, broadcast FM transmitter, webcam and tripod. 

Movie nights will be delivered in partnership with sponsors and local businesses, also providing opportunities for farmers’ markets and local food vendors to sell their products. 

ICET says there are ample opportunities to use this technology to deliver new, innovative and safe community events, according to Island Health safety protocols. 

Such occasions could include local festivals, drive-in concerts or other events in Port McNeill and surrounding areas.

“This new delivery model is an exemplary initiative bringing the arts community, business and vendor communities together,” says ICET CEO Line Robert. “It also demonstrates the community’s ingenuity and support for the viability of the North Island arts scene by showcasing the arts in a way that is affordable, self-sustaining and safe.”

The Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society (CLWS) project will address the closure of a number of Cumberland Lake Park campground sites due to provincial health and safety requirements by adding new, physically distanced, walk-in sites. 

Six new tent pads and two new common areas with fire rings, picnic tables and a metal food cache will be situated on a 20-metre walk into a forested area overlooking Comox Lake. 

According to ICET, increasing the number of guests at the campground will also support local businesses that currently operate at the lake site, as well as other retail and food service businesses in the Village.

“This type of pilot project will help diversify and expand camping opportunities by increasing alternative revenue streams, while encouraging low-impact camping and travel methods,” says ICET board chair Josie Osborne. “On a larger scale, adding accommodation in Cumberland is key to ensuring the Village fully captures the additional benefits that overnight visitors can generate for the local economy.”

Both projects are set to get underway in the coming days.