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

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

.
Eight weeks with no new COVID-19 cases in Castlegar

The latest localized BCDCD COVID-19 numbers

Jasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve Smith
New children’s book features lost Castlegar dog who swam the Columbia multiple times

Brent and Mary Hummel and Jasper tell their dramatic story

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

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

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

Most Read