Columbia Basin Trust is now providing over 70 programs and initiatives to Basin communities thanks to a strong year for its investments.
“The performance of our hydropower facilities once again surpassed our expectations,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “The focus on managing these assets to ensure reliability resulted in fewer unplanned outages. And now with the purchase of the Waneta Expansion Generating Station, Basin residents will enjoy even greater benefits now, and in the future, as more of the revenues are injected back into this region.”
Revenues from its combined investments in hydropower facilities, real estate, market securities and business loans grew from $64 million in the 2017/18 fiscal year to $71.9 million this year, as released in its 2018/19 Annual Service Plan Report. Approximately 80 per cent of the Trust’s revenues come from the sale of hydropower generated by its assets in the West Kootenay jointly owned with Columbia Power Corporation.
In 2018/19 the Trust committed $62.6 million in programs, services and investments to positively impact the communities and people of the Basin. This included $1.9 million for infrastructure to expand broadband and help develop the economy, $8.1 million for business loans and real estate investments, plus financial support for 1,750 projects and partnerships.
Highlights from the past year include:
• $800,000 towards the purchase of 69.68 hectares of beach and wetlands by the Regional District of Central Kootenay along Kootenay Lake at Crawford Bay to support public lake access for residents and protect environmental values;
• Purchase of Creston’s 80-plus year-old grain elevators, two of four remaining wooden grain elevators in British Columbia, to ensure their structural integrity and historical preservation;
• $2.5 million increase to the Energy Retrofit Program to help ensure existing affordable housing units are maintained, cost-effective, energy-efficient and comfortable for residents;
• $3.2 million investment in 25 new housing units in Cranbrook for low-income seniors;
• Launched a $3-million, multi-year Basin Physical Literacy and Youth Sport (PLAYS) initiative to support youth recreation and well-being;
• Launched the multi-year Energy Sustainability Grant for community-purpose buildings;
• Launched a three-year, $1.5-million Trail Enhancement Grants program;
• $650,000 partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to expand the Darkwoods Conservation area by 14 per cent
• A new $6-million partnership between the Trust, College of the Rockies and Selkirk College will work toward shared priorities to enhance the quality, availability and uniqueness of the college experience for students.
The Trust’s Columbia Basin Management Plan sets out 13 strategic priorities to guide its work supporting Basin communities from 2016 to 2020. Next year, the Trust will begin consulting with people in the region to renew them.
“We’re looking forward to connecting with people to imagine the possibilities,” said Strilaeff. “We want to hear their bold and innovative ideas that will help shape the future of how we live, work and play in the Basin.”