The $600,000 earmarked for Lower Columbia Community Directed Funds by the Columbia Basin Trust has now largely been distributed and the committee responsible for the funds has issued a report highlighting the 10 initiatives that were funded.
The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) provided the $600,000 over a three-year period, from 2014 to 2016. The philosophy behind the Community Directed Funds (CDF) initiative “was for certain geographic sub-regions located in the Columbia Basin to come together and invest in strategic investments within the sub-region.” In the case of the Lower Columbia sub-region, the communities that came together were Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, and areas A and B of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).
The funds were distributed by the CDF Committee — a committee of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS) — in accordance with guidelines laid out in the Lower Columbia Priorities Plan, which the committee created through a community engagement and planning consultation process.
The 10 initiatives funded in Lower Columbia were as follows:
1. Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies Centre (MIDAS)
An applied science research and commercialization centre in Trail. Funds were used to fund an application to the federal government’s Western Economic Diversification Fund for up to $1.6 million, and the application was successful.
2. Regional Tourism Initiative
Funding was awarded to Tourism Rossland to promote the entire Lower Columbia sub-region. The funds were used to develop Google Photo Tours for 52 businesses, tourist attractions and facilities. “Stay Connected” online packages were also created for each business that participated and Tourism Rossland ran a Google workshop.
3. Rural Residency Program
Funding was used to establish the UBC Department of Family Practices residency program at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH). There are now four second-year and four first-year family practice residents involved in the program, and there are also UBC medical students training at KBRH. Funds are used to provide residents with housing while they train in Lower Columbia and the goal is to encourage them to return to the region once they’ve finished their training. “To date one such resident has made this commitment,” according to the report.
4. Regional Tourism Strategic Planning Session
Tourism Rossland used the funding to leverage a total of $20,675, which it then used to hold a strategic planning session with stakeholders from each Lower Columbia community. The result of the planning session was the framework for the Regional Tourism Project.
5. Regional Tourism Project
Funding was used to leverage $338,000 from other sources. The project includes increasing the online and print presence of regional accommodation, attractions, activities, retail, etc.; improving communication within the region; creating a unified brand/image outside the region; improving regional events coordination by working with event providers in the area; and a long-term business development plan.
6. Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR)
Funding was used to help leverage $520,000 in volunteer labour and “other financial contributions,” which allowed FORR to build new cabins and outhouses in the Rossland Range Recreation Site, demolish old shelters, upgrade trails, create more parking and restore historical landmarks. It’s hoped that FORR’s efforts will attract newcomers to the area.
7. Trail District Arts Council
Funding was used to leverage $719,000 for the Charles Bailey Theatre Business Plan Phase 2. The plan includes “construction of a theatre marquee, renovation/construction of a bar/lounge area, purchase of sound lighting equipment and the installation of a theatre air-conditioning system.” It’s hoped the improvements will attract higher attendance.
8. Kootenay Columbia Trails Society
Funding was used to leverage a total of $60,000, which was used to create the Rusty Chainsaw Trail between Miral Height and Sunningdale in Trail.
9. Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC)
Funding was used to facilitate the sale of lands and buildings in the Columbia Gardens area. The CDF Committee’s “goal was to try to assist in a significant way the marketing of these properties with a view to creating jobs and investing in new businesses in the Lower Columbia” as the properties are considered ideal for commercial or industrial investment.
10. Lower Columbia Tech Club Society
Amount: just over $6000
Funding was provided to the Lower Columbia Tech Society, “a collaborative group of our region’s world-class experts in science and technology showcasing their skills, knowledge and passion to all ages and skill sets.”
The remaining $64,000 was spent on the Lower Columbia Priorities Plan, project development, LCCDTS administrative services and annual insurance coverage.