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

Career Development Services withdrew a proposed rezoning bylaw for a permanent shelter at 1506 Cedar Ave. Plans for a new shelter will go ahead, but CDS would like to have funding in place before moving forward. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Trail year-round homeless shelter put on hold

CDS application for rezoning of homeless shelter was cancelled before the third and final reading

Connor Jones
Top Shelf Stories: You’re a lousy teammate

Connor Jones reflects on family, sports, and life’s lessons growing up in Greater Trail

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Fruitvale woman charged with impaired driving in 2019 crash that killed 2 teens

A 15-year-old boy and 18-year-old woman, both from Fruitvale, died in the crash that sent the vehicle into the river

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Photo: Unsplash
Trail council tackles well upgrades, snow removal, ramp

Trail man’s efforts to get a wheelchair access ramp installed on Third Avenue runs into a roadblock

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Product Care offers more than <a href="http://link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com/ls/click?upn=pDYyTceU0YgTDdsd92GohdQJsmSiPFEkcB4MdMM0Qkoqb1aJA-2By5aWklKJXV6QRdyTteNjr2FccUOVLUe4t5Zw-3D-3D1ds-_KVyBcpjXADXifSWVpM8nQcAzSm9-2B6fEFnjVrTsOcu31irDHDxi5k0QTOIWCqMXUxaNbrf0yRzXSSpROCkfx3NkUtbr65Dkcw1J0by-2F-2BDdDiJGbcfhtjHWYSs66NwakeCCLYkj20e9ICIZsLcedqNZKBhsN0sGgBsInpdzsddYikUZkmQvFdxLJhakpgAA6aAJ5ScUoWR6vO9sM819vRB-2F6x7dsdfIaWa4ZgHxR4G7hauxgSJCsNI2bP5J62EFfM0aiDqRPwUPUjt7i5-2FMqpdJxrEBewnLky-2B3lE0JAmi5UsJBkJejuLOjsndZz4b7dNgbvt6KyewKuF0sxU2rpYgkAO9YAKc9STuFJd28Qn7jE0-2FqlB8HKOvpW150NHS-2BOMBcK5rkZ8YAuPqJy11k-2BgndiKB-2FWl2icAfbWtRGJPb8fM-3D" target="_blank">150 free drop-off locations</a> in B.C. (Pixabay.com)
Recycling broken or burnt string lights can reduce holiday landfill waste

In 2019, Product Care Recycling diverted more than 11.6 million light bulbs from landfills

Most Read