By David F. Rooney
Support for local arts and culture, improved local post-secondary education, recreational trail building and economic development topped the list of Revelstoke residents’ concerns during the Columbia Basin Trust’s recent consultation process.
According to the CBT’s summary of community comments, poverty reduction, programming for children and youths, affordable housing, construction of a conference/convention centre, re-introduction of passenger rail service, food security, improved air service, habitat restoration and local renewable energy projects were also important topics for Revelstoke residents.
The Trust’s six-month-long consultation ran from last September until February and saw teams of CBT officials conduct workshops in different communities. The Revelstoke workshop was held on October 30 and was attended by 63 people.
They provided input on:
- What makes Revelstoke great;
- Their most important themes and ideas;
- What the Trust does now that works well;
- Anything new they would like the CBT do; and
- Their community aspirations over the next five, 10 and 20 years.
Over 3,000 residents attended 55 community workshops across the Basin and generated more than 17,000 ideas and thoughts.
A statement from the Trust said that while residents brought forward a range of themes and topics, one that was mentioned most frequently across communities was economic development and diversification. Other topics include agriculture, healthy food and food security, arts and culture, community infrastructure, community transportation alternatives, education, energy efficiency and sustainability, and recreation and physical activity, among many others.
Basin residents also said they’d like the CBT to consider additional methods to support communities. These include taking a more strategic, focused approach on specific Basin-wide issues and innovative ways of investing in Basin projects.
If you visit the website created to host the different community comments you can see what other towns regarded as their priorities. While there are some similarities — for instance Nelson’s priorities are very similar to ours — some are different. Nakusp residents, were most eager for economic diversification while Goldenites placed recreation at the top of their list.
Neil Muth, the CBT’s president and CEO, said in an interview that maintaining a keen understating of the hopes, fears and aspirations of Basin residents is key to the organization’s success. And the CBT is successful. It is generally regarded as one of the most important — and most understanding — agencies dealing with people in the Basin.
It manages to stay in touch in part through the men and women staffing its four regional offices in Castlegar, Nakusp, Golden and Cranbrook as well as its various sector managers, community liaisons, topic-specific committees and directors. It also holds workshops, conducts surveys and hosts major events, such as the symposiums held every three years — all in an effort to stay in touch with the public
“It kind of depends on what’s happening in a community or a region,” Muth said. “When I got here in 2005 we didn’t hear a tremendous amount about economic diversification. The economy was going strong. Then along came 2008 and the downturn. If we’re not out there being engaged with people we’re going to be behind the eight-ball all the time.
“Today the themes that are broad based are economic development, jobs and diversification. The second main topic we hear about is housing — affordable housing, particularly for seniors and people at risk and what may be called attainable housing The third one we hear consistently is human-resource capacity whether you’re talking about qualified people in government and non-profits. Volunteerism I hear about consistently.”
Columbia Basin Trust supports efforts to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, visit cbt.org or call 1-800-505-8998.