The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) recently donated thousands of dollars in grants to the Elk Valley for initiatives pertaining to public art, energy sustainability, and COVID-19 funding.
In terms of Public Art Grants, the CBT donated $20,000 to the District of Sparwood to create a street banner program. The banners will publicly display the vibrant artwork of local artists to celebrate the Elk Valley’s culture and history. With the Public Art Grants having launched in 2018, the CBT has since funded a total of 26 art projects, including ones in both Fernie and Elkford, totalling $485,328 worth of grants.
“The Trust launched the Public Art Grants program to help communities create or enhance spaces of public interest with the installation of outdoor public art like sculptures, murals and other types of art that are a draw for locals and visitors alike, while supporting and showcasing local artists,” said Michelle d’Entremont, manager delivery of benefits for the CBT.
Another set of grants recently issued are the Energy Sustainability Grants. These grants support projects employing the use of renewable, efficient, and alternative energy generation and conservation in community purpose buildings. Since its initiation in 2018, the CBT has funded 44 community purpose buildings with over $1.5 million in grants.
In an effort to reduce environmental impact, this year’s upgrades increase the viability of 28 buildings in 19 communities, and are being supported by over $800,000 in grant funding. According to Mark Brunton, senior manager, delivery of benefits, in order to qualify projects need to generate alternative or renewable energy, or improve energy efficiency and conservation. This can be done by upgrading insulation, heating, lighting, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Projects must also positively return investments and significantly impact the community.
“When we consulted with people in the Basin they told us renewable and alternative energy was important for the region,” said Brunton. “In 2018, the trust launched the Energy Sustainability Grants to support renewable and alternative energy generation and energy conservation in community purpose buildings owned and operated by nonprofit organizations, local government and First Nations. Operating these facilities can be expensive. Supporting community efforts to generate energy and lower consumption leads to reduced energy costs, saving money and becoming more environmentally and economically sustainable.”
Receiving this grant in Fernie is the Senior Citizens Club, who is being given $50,000 to upgrade their windows and install LED lighting in their community hall. Also funded is the Fernie and District Arts Council, who is granted $13,500 to upgrade to LED lighting. In Elkford, the arena is being given $50,000 to set up more efficient furnaces, and Sparwood’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch #081 is using a $4,556 grant for new LED lighting. Lastly, the Elko Parks and Recreation Association is funded $20,250 to install solar panels, new doors, and more efficient LED lighting in their community hall.
Thankfully, both the Energy Sustainability Grants and the Public Art Grants will not be impacted by the COVID-19 situation, however d’Entremont states that the trust will be taking the pandemic into consideration and altering priorities in such a way to meet the region’s needs.
Providing relief during the pandemic, the CBT has also announced $11.7 million in funding for COVID-19 related support. Recognizing the new challenges faced by the Basin’s residents, the trust seeks to use this funding to support local businesses, food banks, First Nations communities, and child care operators. They also hope to aid community social service agencies in adapting operations to provide new programs, while also adjusting services to account for public health requirements.
Furthermore, to assist small businesses the CBT created the Small Business Working Capital Loan, a program intended to provide low interest loans to Basin based small businesses. The loan is set in place so selected businesses can achieve their immediate requirements despite COVID-19 related challenges.