An unexpected injection of funds is coming to the Strathcona Regional District and Mt. Waddington Regional District’s Tsunami Mapping project.
Thanks to an offer from the All One Fund, a Victoria-based philanthropic group, at least $350,000 will be added to the existing $450,000 budget for the project. The confirmed extra funding will go towards providing higher resolution of the risk assessment in the Mt. Waddington and Gold River areas, and consideration would go towards funding new tsunami inundation map signs, a short film about the Indigenous story of the Cascadia tsunami event that happened in 1700, the development of a web-based story map that links to the risk assessment data and an educational module for students in four communities.
“The proposal in front of you is a very low-risk, high reward opportunity from a third-party philanthropist,” said SRD protective services coordinator Shaun Koopman when the opportunity was presented to the SRD board for approval.
The board voted to draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the district and the All One Fund, which would set the ball rolling on adding these items to the 2021 project.
Originally, the project was to provide high-resolution tsunami modelling from near Gold River up to Cape Scott Provincial Park. The new agreement brings even higher resolution — from 30 m to 10 m — and to add other aspects to the project which would increase public awareness of sea level rise and tsunami risk.
During the discussion at the SRD board table, director Charlie Cornfield expressed his concern about the All One Fund, particularly about their history and worried about potential conflicts of interest between the SRD and the group.
“I want to be clear I support the tsunami mapping project since day one. I think it’s extremely important. This seems very very good and a tremendous opportunity, but before we jump into a partnership with someone it would be nice to know a bit more about what they have funded in the past,” he said during the meeting.
“When you get into a relationship with some organizations, you may not agree with all the funding they undertake. For instance, I wouldn’t want to be there with somebody who is anti-forestry or anti-fish farms, in other words, if it’s strictly philanthropical [sic] where it’s about the tsunami mapping, and this is what they’ve done, or they fund hospitals or something for the common public good, then great,” he added. “I’m just a little concerned not knowing this particular fund.”
Koopman explained that the fund was set up by a philanthropist named Jessica Lake, who is married to one of the founders of the e-commerce website Shopify — which according to Forbes has a market cap of $60 billion, making it the seventh-most valuable Canadian company today. The Lakes have moved on from Shopify to other interests like the All One Fund and Hello Ventures, a venture capital organization.
“The All One Foundation … contributed funding to tsunami projects that the District of Tofino also undertook,” Koopman said during the meeting. “I can say that they’ve been involved with this kind of coastal flood mapping with other local governments.”
According to their website, the All One Fund “lend[s] support to agencies that work to meet the core needs of their communities with compassion, creativity and expertise. Each year, [they] choose one issue for a period of concentrated research leading to grants sized to stimulate significant transformation.”
Past issues include meeting the needs of Canadian military veterans and contributing to projects looking at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The group is also considering food waste and redistribution, youth and nature, and emergency preparedness in the region for future projects.
The board voted to have staff prepare the MOU and move forward with the project. Directors Cornfield and Ron Kerr voted against it.