Over the past year, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has been active in providing funding to a plethora of projects throughout the Kootenays.

Collectively, CBT has given $62.2 million to help communities, businesses, and other programs to benefit residents over the 2018/2019 year.

Grants have gone to various programs, investments, and services, including $8.1 million in business loans and real estate investments, $1.9 million in broadband infrastructure, and financial support for 1,750 projects and partnerships.

“It was an incredibly busy year,” said CBT President and CEO Johnny Strilaeff. “There are approximately 70 active programs at the moment and a few more that have been launched following year-end.”

Strilaeff added that one of their more ambitious programs has been the construction of over 400 affordable housing units.

Highlights from the past year include:

  • $800,000 for the purchase of 69.68 hectares of beach area and wetlands to support public access and protect the ecosystem.
  • Purchased Creston’s two 80-plus-year-old wooden grain elevators. Two of the four remaining wooden grain elevators in British Columbia, to preserve as a historical site.
  • $2.5 million increase to the Energy Retrofit Program to help maintain affordable housing units, and keep them energy efficient.
  • $3.2 million investment in 25 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors.
  • CBT launched a $3 million, multi-year Physical Literacy and Youth Sport (PLAYS) initiative to support youth recreation and well-being.
  • It launched the multi-year Energy Sustainability Grant for community-purpose buildings.
  • Launched a three-year, $1.5-million trail enhancement grant program.
  • $650,000 partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to expand the Darkwoods Conservation Area by 14%
  • A new $6-million partnership between the Trust, College of the Rockies and Selkirk College, which will work to enhance the quality, availability college experience for students.

The next step for CBT is to find out what residents value so they can set their goals for the future of their grant programs.

“In terms of what’s next, the Trust is going to be embarking on a renewal of the prioritization effort. Where we will be going to communities in the region, and asking once again what is important to you today,” said Strilaeff. “We want to have a dialogue around what’s your vision for the longer-term future, what kind of community would you like your children to grow up in.”

The Trust’s management plan sets out 13 strategic priorities to guide its support to basin communities from 2016 to 2020. Next year, CBT will begin consultations to find out what is important to Basin residents for the next five, 10, and 20 years.