By Korie Marshall

The Village of Valemount is looking for new members for the committee that decides where money from one Columbia Basin Trust program goes in our community.

The Columbia Basin Trust is a crown corporation created in 1995 in recognition of the effects of the Columbia River Treaty on the Canadian residents of the Columbia Basin – those most affected by the Treaty with the US. Its mandate is to support efforts by the people of the Columbia Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being. It was originally funded by the province of BC, but now funds its programs and initiatives entirely through its investment program, which includes a number of power projects.

CBT’s oldest programs are the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs. Funds are allocated on a per capita funding formula and are distributed once a year to local government partners, like the Village of Valemount. All areas in the basin receive Community Initiatives funding, while those most affected by dam construction under the Treaty, including Kinbasket Reservoir, also receive Affected Areas funding.

Every year, organizations in the community get a chance to make a pitch for this Community Initiatives and Affected Areas funding, and local people help decide who gets funded. Projects need to meet certain criteria which have changed over the years, and are designed to meet the priorities of the community. Each organization has to pitch the idea to the community, and anyone who attends the pitch night can vote on which projects they think should receive some of the funding available each year. Then the adjudication committee reviews the projects compared to the goals of the program, calculates the support of the community and suggests to Valemount Council which organization should get how much of the available funds. In the years since the program have been available to Valemount, Council has always agreed with the committee’s recommendations.

Last year, the adjudication committee members were Wendy Dyson, Bill Kruisselbrink, Dee McEachern, and Arnold Wied with Sandy Salt representing council and Braden Hutchins, staff liaison and non-voting member. Over $216,000 was available for Valemount last year, and not all of that was awarded. The remainder will be added to the pot available for this year’s round of funding. Hutchins noted at Council on Nov. 12 that two members of the committee had stepped down, so Council will be looking for applications for new members to join the committee.

The Village plans to release the application forms and guidelines at the Community Conversations on Nov. 28 at the Community Centre. Deadline for submission is still expected to be the end of February, and the committee’s recommendations are normally confirmed by Council in April. Go to the Columbia Basin Trust website to find out more about its programs.