Columbia River Basin Trust board of directors. (Submitted)

Columbia Basin Trust invests in preserving history

The Columbia Basin Trust recently committed over $2 million to 42 heritage projects in the basin to ensure future generations continue to benefit from historical assets.

“In as many ways as history is varied, the methods to preserve this history vary as well,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “That’s why we’re open to being flexible in how we support heritage-related needs in the Basin, such as grants for built heritage, museums and archives, capacity support and purchasing assets ourselves.”

The Trust is supporting a range of projects, from digitizing historical school yearbooks, to creating a municipal conservation policy, to upgrading how a museum stores its artifacts, to repairing and preserving heritage structures.

In Ainsworth, the JB Fletcher Restoration Society will be repairing the JB Fletcher Store, including stabilizing the storefront, removing lead paint and mould, and adding heating and insulation. Built in 1896, the store is valued as one of the last surviving buildings from the original Ainsworth townsite, which is considered the oldest mining settlement in the West Kootenay.

“The JB Fletcher Store is the last remaining heritage conservation project that Ainsworth has, and its only link to the past. It provides the community with an opportunity to show visitors how we came to be,” said Terry Peterson, Project Manager. “This year’s funding will make the building environment safe for the public and allow the building to be used year-round.”

In Kimberley’s community of Marysville, the Old Marysville Schoolhouse will be getting a new coat of exterior paint. Used as a school from 1910 to 1949, the school has already had its interior restored and outfitted as an early 20th-century schoolhouse. Owned by the Kimberley District Heritage Society, it is currently open to the public as a museum and used by school classes.

“This project is important as it preserves one of our oldest intact heritage buildings and will provide future generations with a tangible part of our history,” said Marie Stang, Administrator. “We hope that projects like this will encourage others to preserve heritage buildings too, rather than discarding them, so that they may continue to tell the story of our community and its people.”

Another unique way the trust is helping preserve Basin heritage is by purchasing two grain elevators. Located in the town of Creston and over eighty years old, these elevators represent a Canadian symbol that is rapidly disappearing, and are two of just four wooden grain elevators left in British Columbia. To ensure their existence into the future, the Trust has become their new owners, with essential repairs coming soon.

The trust is also supporting the Cranbrook History Centre with $300,000 to build a train shed to protect some of its most valuable railcars.

In ways like these, the trust is delivering on its strategic priority to ensure the history and culture of the basin is celebrated by vibrant arts, culture and heritage.

In addition to considering individual needs like the grain elevators and train shed, it has committed $7.8 million over three years to support the basin’s heritage values.

The trust also partners with Heritage BC to support a basin-based heritage planner who helps local groups and organizations increase their capacity for conserving the region’s heritage. To learn more about all these opportunities, visit ourtrust.org/heritage.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.

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