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

Left to right, Wayne Day, AF Ret’d; Doug Prentice, Army Ret’d, Kyle Dalum, Army Ret’d and Randy Kruger. Front, Vicky Kruger. Photo submitted
Veteran donates three quilts to Quilts of Valour after receiving her own

Cindy Postnikoff, who distributes Quilts of Valour to area veterans, as well… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

Centre 64 in Kimberley. Bulletin file
Kimberley’s Centre 64 receives grant for building improvements

The Kimberley Arts Council/Centre 64 has just received notice that their grant… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Most Read