Elkford, Fernie and Sparwood are set to receive grant funding from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT). The Elk Valley area will receive four grants, which are under 28 social well-being projects that will receive support in the Columbia Basin. Over $1 million in funding will be distributed from the CBT’s Social Grants program, which has been operational since 2012.
“In it’s current form we are into our fourth year, we have had social grants in the past going back to 2004 or so. We were much smaller then as we had much less money,” said Wayne Lundeberg, Director, Delivery of Benefits for CBT. “We didn’t have a dedicated screen, we funded them through another grant programs that we had. But about four years ago we decided it was time for a dedicated social grants program again.”
The Elkford Arts Council Society is receiving $12,300 to develop a youth mentorship program. It will pair high school students with children in an after school art program. The District of Sparwood will get $11,000 to deliver the outdoor Ghostrider Adventure Camp to youth children. Fernie is set to receive two grants totaling $51,900. The Elk Valley Hospice Society will receive $12,300 to establish an information kiosk in the Elk Valley Hospital lobby to raise the organization’s profile. The remaining $46,400 is for the Fernie Child Care Society to create an outdoor play space for children up to five years old that are enrolled in daycare.
Lundeberg says a committee determines the social grants.
“We have a separate adjudication committee with mostly experts who are already working in the sector. I use the word experts because they are working in the sector in some hands on way. We also have a community member at large so we can have a non-sector person working on it,” he said. “They review all the grants and make decisions based on the impact and value of the program as far as the budget versus the outcomes and those sorts of things. They make recommendations to the CBT for funding, while I cannot think of any time we have not taken their recommendations; they do not have the final say. The organization does, they sign off on the recommendations.”
Priority is decided by how a project coincides with the CBT’s strategic plan.
“There are no categorizations as far as location. People will instead be paying attention to the priorities that are outlined in our strategic plan,” said Lundeberg. “In many cases they are fairly general and support activities basin wide and support community level activities. We look at funding that the committee determines as the best moving forward.”
The CBT is monitoring the location distribution but it is not a defining asset.
“Over time we will be watching the geographic distribution, but it is not a pre-determining thing as far as what we are adjudicating.”
Although the CBT is owned by the crown they do not receive funding from the government. Instead it receives its revenue through investments in the Columbia Basin.
“We are a crown corporation, but we are an arms length from the government. All of our revenues come from our own assets. We are part owners of four hydro facilities, plus other investments in the region and we are self sustaining through the revenues from those investments,” said Lundeberg.
“We are kind of unique that way, we have some more freedom and flexibility as we are assured of our income stream based on our projections on long term power sales agreements as opposed to government entities which can be more vulnerable.”