The West Kootenay EcoSociety, the newest agency to open doors in downtown Trail, encourages locals to drop in and learn about their history, successes, and the direction they are headed.
Which begs the question, who is the West Kootenay EcoSociety and what is its mission?
Built on the tenets of climate change action, eco-conservation and food sustainability, the non-profit describes itself as activating community through leadership and education.
This is the society’s second hub, the first is located on Baker Street in Nelson.
To find out more, the Trail Times caught up with Montana Burgess, the organization’s executive director, to ask about community directives and how people of the Lower Columbia can get involved.
TT: What is one of the first projects, or initiatives, you will be working on in the Trail area?
Burgess: We’re working on connecting with volunteers, residents, and businesses to educate them on the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy. This is Trail’s opportunity to join cities across Canada, the U.S. and the globe to have cleaner energy, healthier community, and a stronger economy by supporting energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy across the community.
We’re also educating people in Trail and across the region on the amazing old growth forests we have right here in the region. We’ll be organizing a hike in September so people can get out with the big trees and learn about the plants and animals that are a part of this inland temperate rain forest.
We also work to promote food sustainability, and run over 40 farmers’ markets and MarketFests street markets in Nelson, like the great markets that are going in Trail.
TT: Do you have some specific ideas for the city, given that Trail is quite a unique place?
Burgess: There’s a big opportunity for Trail to join the renewable energy transition. There are many skilled workers and young people looking for good jobs right here in their home community. This community could be leading training worker to do the energy efficiency and retrofit work that will need to be done in the energy transition and working in clean energy projects here. I think Metal Tech Alley is a really neat concept and up-cycling waste products is an important step in the energy transition. So Trail is well on its way.
TT: Why now, more than ever, is it important for the EcoSociety to have a presence throughout the West Kootenay?
Burgess: It’s our 25th anniversary this year. To truly be a West Kootenay regional group we need to be present on the ground in the whole region to support building resilient communities and healthy wild places. While we aren’t able to physically have offices in every community, we’re proud of our 200+ volunteers across the region and setting up a community hub in the Lower Columbia seemed like the right next step.
Trail is a “big city” in the region and has a rich economic history. In this polarizing and critical time in the world, with wildfires burning all around us every summer and flooding taking place right next door (Grand Forks), people need places and homes to come together and build solutions. We hope to be that home for people in Trail and the Lower Columbia.
We’re here to bring a message of hope and we can do it, no matter how challenging, if we work together. We’re going to people-power the energy transition, but only if we work together and find common ground and shared values.