By Steve Hubrecht
steve@columbiavalleypioneer.com

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) released its strategic priorities for the next few years earlier this fall.

In the management plan outlining the trust’s priorities, CBT chair Jocelyn Carver and chief executive officer and president Johnny Strilaeff acknowledge that 2020 has been a difficult year, with the global COVID-19 pandemic throwing many plans awry, but emphasized that the trust will continue its work.

The trust’s six strategic priorities are community well-being, ecosystem enhancement, high-speed connectivity, housing, local food production and access, and business renewal support.

The CBT outlined that as part of its support for business renewal, it is seeking to help businesses in the Canadian parts of the Columbia Basin (which includes the Columbia Valley) survive and adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19, help businesses retain staff, and if possible, create new jobs, increase local resident’s access to affordable childcare (to help enable employment), and increase residents’ employment training opportunities.

For the high-speed connectivity priority, the trust is aiming to expand fibre optic networks in the Columbia Basin, and increase the use of the existing network. In terms of the housing priority, the CBT wants to increase energy efficiency in new and upgraded housing, and to increase the number of new affordable rental units. For the local food production and access priority, the trust hopes to explore value-added food processing, increase market access for local food, support climate resilience strategies for local food production, and reduce food waste.

As part of the ecosystem enhancement priority, the CBT lists outcomes including preventing and reducing invasive species, as well as increasing terrestrial and aquatic habitats restored, conserved or enhanced. Outcomes listed for the community well-being priority include helping communities develop project ideas and secure funding, making sure communities have access to credible information and education on climate change and the natural environment, making sure the non-profit sector meets community needs, helping vulnerable and potentially vulnerable populations access supports, engaging and connect youth, and ensuring communities have diverse arts, cultural and heritage opportunities.