Stronger communities a focus for Trust for next two years

·3 min read

The Columbia Basin Trust is focusing for the next two years on making Basin communities more resilient in a time of widespread and rapid change.

The Trust board released its strategic priorities for 2020-2022 recently. And as the region tries to adapt and survive in a worldwide pandemic, the board says it will do what it can to help Basin residents build a stronger and more secure future.

“This year is the Trust’s 25th anniversary and while aspects of 2020 have been challenging for all of us, the Basin has accomplished so much,” Board Chair Jocelyn Carver and CEO Johnny Strilaeff wrote in an introductory letter. “While global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change seem daunting or insurmountable at times, working alongside people in the Basin reminds us of our collective strength and capacity to affect meaningful change together.”

The CBT says it has six strategic priorities for the next two years: community well-being, ecosystem management, high speed connectivity, housing, local food production and access, and support for business renewal. “In addition, the integrated priorities of climate resilience and working with Indigenous Peoples will be incorporated throughout the Trust’s work in the Basin,” the plan states.

Community well-beingincludes supporting local governments and community organizations ‘realize their aspirations”; strengthening non-profits and community groups to build amenities and services for the disadvantaged, youths and seniors; enhancing trails and recreational facilities; and improving energy efficiency and sustainability of buildings.

On ecosystem management, the Trust will identify projects focused on enhancement, restoration and conservation and work with stakeholders to advance them; support projects that promote healthy ecosystems; and support climate change resiliency.

High speed connectivity includes expanding the physical fibre-optic network; increasing use of the existing network; and obtaining government grants.

On housing, the Trust will help communities build and maintain affordable and energy-efficient housing; support local housing priorities, and pursue funding opportunities.

To improve local food production and access, the objectives are to support local food producers; explore value-added production opportunities; reduce food waste; and support climate resilience strategies.

Support for business renewal will include initiatives to help business become more resilient and adaptable; provide businesses with assessments and advice on issues like greenhouse gas production, energy efficiency, and expansion strategies and options. The idea is to have businesses maintain and create jobs, have access to capital and a local pool of workers with the needed skills and training.

“Some of the priorities in the plan are broad,” the Trust said in a release. “The Trust will work with Basin residents to develop specific approaches to achieving the priorities and will share progress updates with Basin residents.”

“Throughout the term of this plan, the Trust will continue to fulfill its Mission to foster the social, economic and environmental well-being of the Basin,” the report adds. “The strategic priorities identified in this plan will be a focus for new programming and initiatives for the 2020-2022 time period. In addition, many other existing supports will continue to be available consistent with this broader Mission.”

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice