Columbia Basin Trust president Johnny Strilaeff says COVID-19 recovery initiatives will be a focus over the next two years. Photo: Submitted

Columbia Basin Trust president Johnny Strilaeff says COVID-19 recovery initiatives will be a focus over the next two years. Photo: Submitted

High-speed internet, business support among Columbia Basin Trust’s new priorities

The Trust has released a planning document targeted at pandemic recovery

The head of the Columbia Basin Trust says funding and initiatives will prioritize pandemic recovery efforts through 2022.

The Trust, which manages a share of revenue earned by the Columbia River Treaty for the Kootenays, released its strategic priorities plan in September. The document, which sets out goals for the next two years, can be read online here.

CBT president and CEO Johnny Strilaeff said the last strategic plan was for five years and ended in 2020. But an inability to travel for public consultation, plus an inundation of support requests during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushed the Trust to think short term.

“It allows us to take action in areas that residents felt the most important,” said Strilaeff, “but let’s do it knowing that at some point in the near-term future, we’ll be able to return again to start talking about five, seven, 10 years, longer-term visions, longer-term priorities of residents.”

The six priorities laid out in the plan are: local food production and access; support for business renewal; community well-being; ecosystem enhancement; housing; and high-speed connectivity.

Several of those categories have already been included in Trust’s past scope, but Strilaeff said they are now being viewed through the perspective of COVID-19 recovery.

Funding efforts, he said, will also focus on areas not currently being covered by provincial and federal relief programs. Child care, he said was an example that might be applied to support for businesses.

“I know that that seems a little bit distant from business renewal, but we consistently see a linkage in terms of being able to retain key employees,” he said.

“So many are just incredibly challenged, being able to access affordable childcare, and having that available is important more than just for the social reasons but just freeing up parents to take on employment opportunities.”

Among the priorities, Strilaeff said the need for high-speed connectivity was an unexpected request made more urgent by the pandemic.

“The requirement for this connectivity is not about Netflix anymore. It’s required to participate in society,” he said.

“We saw this as a real spotlight [issue] during COVID. If you wanted to access government services, or supports or employment insurance, you basically needed to have that reliable connection. Health care, medical visits were being conducted virtually.”

The focus on high-speed internet comes as a plan to install fibre-optic internet in the Slocan Valley and Nakusp was delayed to March 2023 by the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation.

Strilaeff said both urban and rural communities in the Kootenays have requested improved internet, which he initially thought was surprising. But as businesses adapt to a loss of in-person customers, he said a need for high-speed connectivity in the region has become apparent.

“A big part of the business renewal is having to adapt to a world that is based on more than just face to face interaction to sell your product or service.”

Related: Columbia Basin Trust announces $11.7 million in COVID-19 support funding

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The 29-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving at Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man gets 3-months curfew for role in Highway 3 chase

Guilty man thanked Judge Robert Brown, said he is committed to recovering from addiction

Two men got into a fight over a Grand Forks’ flower display last summer. One of the men resolved an assault charge by entering into a peace bond at Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man takes peace bond after flower fisticuffs

Harsh words over a downtown flower display led to violent confrontation, said Crown attorney

A man wears a mask while walking down Canyon Street in Creston on Nov. 13. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Creston resident living with COVID-19 reflects on experience

Contracting and living with the virus, she said, has led to a “major reset” in her life

The man was charged with multiple counts of impersonation with intent to avoid arrest. File photo
Grand Forks man pleads guilty to impersonating brother in city traffic stops

The man told a city court he and his brother have since reconciled

The Crown said the man became upset after he saw a couple having sex in public view last July. File photo
Midway man takes peace bond after hitting man for having sex on beach

The accused appeared at the Grand Forks Courthouse Tuesday, Nov. 17

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Most Read