Columbia Basin Trust has a beautiful office on the main street of Nakusp and most people around town know vaguely that if they need funding, they could try for a grant from the CBT. What they might not know is their very own pet project might qualify for some help too, and that Lynda Lafleur is ready and keen to get people the help they need.
The CBT was created in 1995 to benefit the residents of the Columbia Basin, the region adversely affected by the Columbia River Treaty. That much most people know.
Not a lot of people know that the CBT doesn’t receive funding from the province any more, they are now reaping the gains from their investments, most of which are in power projects like the Waneta expansion.
Due to large investments like the Waneta expansion, the projected benefits are looking up for the future, which is a remarkable thing in these times of economic crunch. CBT is looking at more than doubling the current delivery of benefits, which is around $18 million, to a whopping $50 million by the year 2019/2020. Got a project you need a hand with? Think you might in the next decade or so? Keep the CBT in mind.
Not many people know that the CBT’s stated mission is to “support efforts by the people of the Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being and to achieve greater self-sufficiency for present and future generations.”
What this means, said Lynda Lafleur, is that CBT works directly with people. She said that about 10 per cent of her day is spent on administration or paperwork, but the vast majority of it is spent with people, including getting to wherever they are.
The area she is responsible for stretches from Revelstoke to Crescent Valley, from Edgewood to Kaslo to Meadow Creek. Many smaller communities don’t have specialized staff to write grants. Lafleur is happy to do what needs to be done if she has the knowledge, she said, and there are always other CBT staff available to help as well.
“It varies from case to case,” said Lafleur, who emphasized that her job was about helping people bring great ideas to fruition. “People just have to give me a call,” she invited.
In practise, this means that if someone thinks there’s a need in the community, they can talk to Lafleur and start the ball rolling to address it. She will help them look at the feasibility of what they want to do, put them in touch with other people who may already be working on the same issue, and point them in the direction of resources and funding to get the job done.
An example of this in Nakusp is the recent application by Parkour Nakusp for funding to get a youth centre opened up in town. The PK team met with Lafleur to discuss what first steps needed to be taken, and she encouraged them to write up a proposal for funding.
“At the end of the day, it’s fun to contribute to your community,” she said. “It’s a really rewarding job.”