Requests for multi-year funding, economic development, affordable housing, and infrastructure are among top themes emerging as Columbia Basin Trust employees begin to work through a year long process of connecting with communities in the basin. The community sessions are being held as Phase One in deciding how a significant increase in CBT revenues should be spent.
An open house held at the Revelstoke Community Centre late Thursday afternoon saw a small but steady stream of residents popping in to chat with CBT representatives.
Johnny Strilaeff, CBT chief operating officer said the community meetings are chance to engage with residents to get a sense of community while at the same time trying to find some regional themes. So far, he says, the response from the communities they have been to has been positive.
“We’re getting a lot of great feedback at the community level,” he said.
In Revelstoke, that feedback included allowing participants of the drop-in session to write down notes and post them on a large board that asked the question: [Is there] anything new you would like the trust to do? Among the answers written on the board were:
– Having a Basin office in Revelstoke,
– Childcare specific funding for basin,
– Multi-year funding.
Other boards included questions about what CBT could do going forward, as well as asking community members to reflect on what makes Revelstoke a great community.
It also included conversing with attendees, among them Ken Jones and Tina Godfrey – both who were in attendance for different reasons.
Jones admitted he wasn’t planning on attending the drop-in session, saying he had actually come to the Community Centre to go swimming, but decided to check it out once he learned what was happening.
“I think it’s important for the community as much as possible to have a say in where things go,” he said.
Godfrey, who had daughter Ezmay Hartley in tow, said her attendance was deliberate as she was present on behalf of the Revelstoke Climbing Co-Op. While Godfrey said all issues are important to her, she feels a local climbing gym needs to be considered as a top priority for the community.
“As a parent it’s a huge reason why because there isn’t a really safe spot to learn [to climb],” she said.
Strilaeff said that while CBT doesn’t want the community engagement to be entirely about the money, they do need to consider that by 2016 CBT will have an increase in revenue to about $55 million, with around $50 million of that being available to support CBT communities.
“We really don’t want this to be all about money, but the fact is our revenue is going to double,” he said.
As the community meetings take place, Kindy Gosal, CBT Special Initiatives Director said that in the background, part of it is the creation of a strategic plan for CBT going forward.
“The foundation of it is public engagement and making sure the public is a priority,” he said.