Major CBT symposium to explore innovative approaches to common issues

By David F. Rooney

The Columbia Basin Trust hopes its upcoming symposium in Revelstoke, October 22-24, will establish a communal dialogue leading to innovative ways to approach common issues and problems.

“We need to start looking at the future,” says CBT spokeswoman Delphi Hoodicoff.

“People are starting to recognize that we need to look at things differently. What we hope is that the dialogue will help us see ourselves as we could be down the road.”

The theme of the symposium, which is expected to bring together about 250 people at the Community Centre, is Shaping Our Future Together.  Over the course of three days participants from across the Basin will discuss the Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty, which is up for renegotiation in 2014, building for success in the broadband economy, alternative energy and energy sustainability, building stronger communities and effective stakeholder engagement.

Hoodicoff said in an interview that Revelstoke has a reputation for innovation and effective community action. Other communities can learn from the city’s experiences and describe their own strengths and experiences.

“Great things are being done in Revelstoke but we need to share our ideas,” she said.

Communities everywhere in the Basin face significant challenges in the years ahead.

Forestry, once the economic and industrial mainstay of many towns and villages, is in serious decline and in some places has virtually disappeared. The mines that once helped sustain communities like Kimberley, Revelstoke, Trout Lake and New Denver are played out or simply uneconomical to operate. For now, tourism appears to be almost the only feasible alternative to major economic growth in many places. Climate change promises to not only alter the physical environment, but the way we live, too. Rising energy costs are another source of anxiety and communities are seeking new ways to cut those.

With issues such as these looming ahead, communities within the Columbia Basin really need to build on their strengths and pool their ideas.

Sharing ideas is a major goal of the symposium. Some of them may come from speakers such as David Beurle, the Australian-born founder of Innovative Leadership.

According to the biography on his website,, he “holds a firm conviction that the future of rural areas, lies in the hands of the local people.”

“He created Innovative Leadership Australia, with the mission to bring the tools and skills to the people who care the most — the people who choose to make rural towns, centers and regions their home,” his bio said. “He has a passion for rural life; having been raised on a farm and having worked all his life in; and with, rural communities.”

Beurle will be the keynote speaker on Saturday morning.

Another inspirational speaker is Paul Edney, author of the bestseller Change the World for Ten Bucks – 50 actions to change the world and make you feel great. The Nelson resident will be speaking duing a dinner on Friday evening at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Other speakers at the symposium include former Ben Stewart, BC’s minister of Community and Rural Development, CBT chairman Josh Smienks, Les MacLaren, assistant deputy minister for the provincial ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum resources, Heather Matthews, BC Hydro’s operations planning manager and George Penhold, Selkirk College’s regional innovation chair of economic development.

But while the speakers may be interesting, Hoodicoff said the real value of the symposium will come what participants themselves will have to say during group discussions.

The symposium is free. You can register for it here: and you can read the final program for it here:

People are also welcome to just drop by and attend sessions that interest them, Hoodicoff said.

On Saturday, October 23, the CBT is sponsoring a Cultural Night from 7 until 9:30 pm. You can find out more about that by reading CBT’s Cultural Night will show off some of the Best in the Basin.