Columbia Basin Trust (Trust) has announced $11.7 million in new funding to provide immediate support for Basin residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Trust announced on April 2 that they are offering support to small businesses, vulnerable populations and community organizations through new and existing programs.
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge for the Basin, and we have heard from communities, residents and our partners on different ways we can help,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Trust president and chief executive officer.
“We are responding with immediate support to assist the region through this extraordinary time.”
New funding is available for First Nations communities, Métis associations, food banks, housing societies, hospices and licensed child care operators, as well as social service agencies that support the most vulnerable.
The Trust also said it plans to help social service organizations switch to a digital format, so that their programming and supports are still available to residents.
“Not only will this increased funding support business and community organizations to address COVID-19 impacts, each dollar is invested in our region and will provide broader economic development benefits,” said Strilaeff.
“During this most difficult time, I encourage everyone to follow public health recommendations and to be kind, compassionate and supportive of one another.”
These grants are intended to be used for the following:
• capital renovations and purchases to modify and adapt physical space to COVID-19 service delivery requirements (this includes renovations such as: secondary entrance, plexi-glass shields, hand washing stations and other physical modifications)
• new or enhanced service delivery expenses to help residents, such as: remote service delivery, COVID-related counselling and support, transportation costs, food vouchers, food delivery and cleaning supplies
• workplace adaptation expenses to support remote working and ensure service delivery can continue (e.g. laptops, phones, remote working software subscriptions), as well as technology and subscription purchases for clients who demonstrate financial need and require technology to access services or education/training
• loss of revenue and expenses resulting from closures, cancelled services or programs, bans on community gatherings, and other financial disruptions due to COVID-19.
The Trust will be providing interest free loans through their new Small Business Working Capital Loan program to help them meet their immediate needs.
The one-time loan offers up to $25,000 with a minimum request of $5,000.
The Trust says it will also increase support to existing programs including the Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP, Summer Works, the Career Internship Program, Basin Business Advisors and Training Free Support.
Several other measures have been taken to continue to support the region while meeting public health requirements.
In response to COVID-19, Columbia Basin Trust announced in March that it is postponing the public engagement process to renew its strategic plan, including community meetings scheduled for the spring and the two regional symposia this fall.
The postponement of the engagement process will not impact any other Trust services and staff continue to be available to respond to comments, questions or requests from residents, Strilaeff said. In addition, the Trust is reaching out to partners and recipients to offer additional support, as well as consider new or different ways to address priorities during this challenging time.
“We recognize that many of our recipients and partners will experience challenges as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 and may require additional support from the Trust,” said Strilaeff. “We welcome and encourage you to reach out to us if this is true for you.”