Growing Affordable Housing Snapshot

Twelve new affordable housing units for families are ready to open their doors in Kimberley.

These are just a fraction of the over 1,000 new affordable housing units the Trust has helped create in the Basin since 2002, in addition to repairs and upgrades to over 1,000 existing affordable units.

Affordable housing is essential when it comes to creating healthy and resilient communities and reducing poverty. The Trust supports affordable housing, including over 500 new affordable rental units that are currently under development in the Basin.

An Eye-catching Restoration

Outside the Revelstoke Railway Museum sits a vibrant yellow caboose.

Not long ago, the caboose was showing its age. Now, with help from the Trust’s Heritage, Museum and Archive Grants, Ed Koski and Jimmy Young from the Revelstoke Heritage Railway Society have restored it close to its original condition. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1954, the caboose was one of the first to be built in steel, rather than wood, and to have a cupola (elevated windows and seats) in the centre, rather than at an end. “The caboose is the one piece of outdoor rolling stock that we are able to have open to the public year-round,” says Hayley Johnson, Executive Director. “This project will draw enthusiasts to the museum at all times of the year.”

Community Dream Comes True

The new $4-million Columbia Lake Recreation Centre is the largest project the community of Ɂakisq’nuk has ever undertaken.

“This project was an absolute priority for this community,” says Heather Rennebohm, Economic Development Officer.

The 22,400-square-foot complex houses a gymnasium, elevated track, exercise room and more, including office space for a variety of community services. From design to construction, the Trust-supported project provided jobs and training for community members and provides employment today to the people who help make the place run.

The facility opened in spring 2019 and is already making an impact in the community and beyond. From intramural sports to hosting tournaments, the centre offers something for everyone when it comes to improving health through sports and activities.

Anyone from anywhere can use the facility, which runs activities for all ages and a range of interests. Chief Alfred Joseph says, “This community is not separate. We are all part of the larger whole.”

Investing in Basin Businesses

Giving local businesses a boost to meet demand

Starting, purchasing or growing a business often requires financial support. Like other traditional lenders, the Trust welcomes smart investment opportunities—like these two examples.


Co-owned by Dr. Amber Robinson and Jason Schroeder, the Nakusp Veterinary Clinic aims to be a place of low stress for animals. Sure, they may have to endure the odd needle, but there are also yummy treats, stress-relieving pheromones and the occasional refrain of relaxing classical music. “This means a great deal to us as business owners and how we want to practise medicine here,” says Robinson.

The clinic also means a great deal to the people of the community—if Robinson and Schroeder hadn’t stepped in as the previous vets retired, pet owners might have faced long drives to the nearest vet.

The couple has been treating pets “fear-free” in Nakusp since June 2018. Before that, they and their three children lived in Victoria, where Robinson also worked as a vet. But when Schroeder lost his job as a software developer, it was time to consider “how to run life differently,” he says.

By chance, they heard the previous vets in Nakusp were set to retire. Unfortunately, though, the couple had a hard time securing financing to set up a new clinic. That is, until they received a loan from the Trust.

Now, Schroeder concentrates on the business side of things while Robinson offers a range of veterinary services, primarily to cats and dogs. Aided by the occasional locum vet, they’ve had a constant flow of clients right from the get-go.

They’ve also been supported by a team of nearly half a dozen staff members. “They’ve been learning a lot,” says Robinson, and some even plan to do additional training. “That’s part of our objective when running a business,” she says: not only to provide a service and make an income, but to build the skills of people in the community.

As for life in Nakusp, the family hasn’t had much time to explore the area yet—a by-product of living on top of where they work. “From that particular side, we’re still new here,” says Schroeder. “We’ve barely finished unpacking.”


In addition to the Creston Valley’s vineyards, wineries and orchards, there’s another type of agriculture-based business making a name for itself beyond the beautiful, fertile valley. PR Forage Co. Ltd. farms more than 2,550 acres to produce timothy hay for export to Japan.

With few local buyers that are already well supplied, selling to faraway markets is a win for the business and for the region, as it brings in outside money to support the local economy. During its busiest season, PR Forage also employs up to 16 people full-time, who prepare the shipments that average 26 metric tonnes.

“We bought the farm from Wynndel Box and Lumber in 2014,” says owner James Kemp. “Timothy had been grown on that property for the seed industry for some time. The owners had a relationship with Columbia Basin Trust, and the Trust was ready and willing to provide our financing.”

Kemp says that once he got into the hay production business, he realized that if he contracted out the processing and transport, his profits would be minimal. He needed more equipment and higher production without a crippling increase in cost.

“In partnership with the Lower Kootenay Band, we invested in our own custom hay press,” Kemp says. “We partner with LKB and profit-share with them on the hay press production. We also purchased four trucks for our own use.”

PR Forage also leases 1,500 acres of farmland from the Lower Kootenay Band (also known as Yaqan Nuʔkiy) for timothy hay production, plus gets timothy hay from other Creston Valley farmers who lease land from the band. “The partnership with LKB began in 2007,” says Kemp. “Without their continued support, we would have a very tough time staying viable.

“As Indigenous people, the Lower Kootenay Band puts an emphasis on land stewardship, and they like the lower environmental impact of our operation. Timothy is only re-seeded every five years on average, and has a relatively low fertilizer and chemical input compared to some other annual crops.

Together, PR Forage, the Lower Kootenay Band and the Trust are ensuring another successful, sustainable agri-business in the Creston Valley.

Two-way benefits

The Trust invests in Basin businesses to help them be successful and make an economic difference in the region. It also invests in them to generate the revenues it needs to fund its programs and services, alongside its investments in power projects, market securities and real estate.

Playing in the Basin

Kids are getting active and getting support to lead healthy lifestyles through the Trust’s Basin PLAYS (Physical Literacy and Youth Sport) initiative. Here are some of the activities:


In Ymir, the community noticed youth wanting to play more court sports outside—but that meant many were playing in the streets. A new multipurpose court gives them a safer place to play sports like basketball and volleyball, right next to the skatepark.


There was mud, leaping, crawling and laughter. At Rossland Summit School, leadership students designed and built a mud obstacle course. Other students then eagerly started training to tackle it, getting fit so they could use their strength, endurance and physical literacy skills to conquer the challenging route.


Before, the Cranbrook Lacrosse Association was bringing in referees from elsewhere. Now, it has trained and certified 10 referees of its own, giving local youth the opportunity to play the sport at various levels. In total, 67 training grants have helped groups throughout the Basin accredit coaches and officials.

Fun and Games - with a Purpose

Developing leadership skills in youth

It’s hard to keep all the balls in the air—literally. Picture a room of youth tossing juggling balls to each other, calling each other’s names, seeing how many balls they can keep moving. It may sound like hysterical fun, but it’s got a purpose. It’s a lesson on communication.

This is one activity of the program A Leadership Journey: The First Steps. Developed by the Trust and delivered by Community Youth Networks in the Basin, this six-week program helps youth develop their leadership and communication abilities and actively think about making change in their communities. The youth come away with practical skills they can immediately use at school, at jobs and in their lives.

These sessions “allow them to see how to become a leader, make things happen and achieve a goal,” says Lori Joe, Coordinator, Kimberley Youth Action Network. It offered the program in January 2019, resulting in nine “graduates” from grades nine to 12, who can now add this certificate to their resumés. Plus, several of the youth have been inspired to join the network’s leadership team.

Like all of the Kimberley network’s activities, the program was offered because the youth asked for it. “The youth actually have a voice and get to speak to what’s important to them,” Joe says, “whether it be fun activities or initiatives or job readiness skills. They create the priorities. And then we create an action plan to support those priorities.”


This youth-led aspect is also a priority of the entire network of youth groups. In fall 2015, the Trust built upon its previous work with youth and established the Basin Youth Network. At the community level, this network supports and provides funding to 28 Community Youth Networks, like Kimberley’s. These work to increase local activities and opportunities for youth aged 12 to 18, enabling them to learn new skills and engage more with each other and their communities.

For six years, the Rossland Youth Action Network has been offering “a ton of different programs,” says Coordinator Holly Borwick. More than 100 youth visit the centre over the course of a school year, including 20 to 30 youth during the daily drop-ins. There are various clubs and activities, and the latest Rossland Youth Week took place in June 2019. “It was a ton of fun,” she says. “There was an event each day so it was lots of work and a lot of the youth got on board with volunteering.

“We’re really lucky in this community to have a centre like this,” she says. “I feel there’s really a sense of community that’s grown around the youth centre. Youth are more inclined to help out and volunteer, and they come to me with their ideas, and they come to me with their problems. I think it’s a really important program.”

In addition to supporting Community Youth Networks like these, the Trust’s regional network also takes on Basin-wide tasks. It develops programs—like the Leadership Journey—that address youth priorities. It provides resources to local youth coordinators and others who work with youth. It also hosts events that bring together youth from different communities.

For example, in spring 2018 it hosted a Leadership Summit for youth. Here, participants developed their leadership skills, learned public speaking techniques, networked and took part in confidence-building activities. Nearly 100 youth came to the event in Kimberley from 22 communities.

With the help of the journey and other opportunities from Lori, I was fortunate to receive the community and volunteerism scholarship. This opportunity will help other students in the upcoming years, just like it helped me and my peers.



In all, more than half a dozen youth networks in the Basin have offered the Leadership Journey, including those in the Beaver Valley, Slocan Valley and Nelson. About 70 youth have completed the program.

While the Rossland network isn’t one of these, it hopes to offer the program in the fall. “It would be good to target some of the older youth to gain these leadership skills that are becoming more important in the job place,” Borwick says.

As for Kimberley, it hopes to offer the program a second time in September. During the program, participants identify some priorities that are important to them. By providing the program earlier in the school year, the youth would then have time to tackle these priorities during school months.

Becoming a leader and an active community member is a lifelong path. The Trust’s Leadership Journey—and the guidance of the region’s Community Youth Networks—help Basin youth take the crucial first steps.

The Youth Action Network is a place where they know your name. It’s also great because no matter who you are, you are welcome there, and it’s a great work space to do homework. I love helping with events and going to drop-in between my busy schedule.


Art Energizes Public Spaces

Communities celebrate their people and places

It engages minds and offers broad learning experiences. It adds vibrancy to communities, attracts visitors and benefits local economies. It helps provide a living to those engaged in creative careers. What is it?

Public art.

In 2018, the Trust introduced Public Art Grants to help communities and groups buy and install art by Basin
artists in public spaces like main streets, parks and plazas.


A new mural for the community of ʔaq̓am will span two exterior walls of its biomass heating building. One will depict a horseshoe feature found on nearby hoodoos, incorporate the four seasons and include local animals and their Ktunaxa traditional names. The other will reproduce a historical photo of ʔaq̓am taken around 1900.

“The final concept for both parts of the mural came directly from the Elders,” says Mitch Tom, Operations Coordinator.
As a young Ktunaxa artist who has undertaken a number of smaller projects for her community, Darcy Luke is looking forward to painting and taking on this bigger challenge.

“This is going to be my largest project to date,” she says. “I am excited to do this work
as an artist and as a Ktunaxa citizen. It feels very empowering to undertake this large-scale work for my community.”


On a wall inside the community’s main gathering space, the Elkford Community Conference Centre, the Elkford Arts Council Society has installed art that draws the viewer in to reflect on the natural and human history of the area. The piece—Pass in the Clouds, by local artist Katherine Russell—uses six glass panels to depict a mountain-ridge trail located in the nearby Height of the Rockies Provincial Park.

“Public art has the power to energize and enhance our public spaces, making us think and transform where we live, work and play,” says Teri Cleverly, Director. “Public art helps celebrate the qualities that make one town different from another and will often reach a demographic that would never otherwise set foot in an art gallery or museum. This piece celebrates the beauty of the Elk Valley and what makes living here unique.”


Visitors are able to walk, sit and balance on a ribbon of metal as part of a new art installation
in Cranbrook’s Idlewild Park. Meant to break down barriers about how people interact with art, Idlewild and the Spirit of Joseph Creek was inspired by Joseph Creek, a waterway that winds through the community. Approximately 50 feet long, the sculpture also incorporates large boulders that highlight the creek’s movement.

The Cranbrook and District Arts Council commissioned the piece from local artist Paul Reimer.

“We want to inspire the imagination and fuel creative interpretation in the people who visit the park,” says Yvonne Vigne, President.

“Public art like this sculpture provides an experience that is accessible to everyone, while also creating awareness about our local artists. It’s a way to generate a creative spark that does not require visiting a gallery.”

To Preserve and Enjoy

Partnerships allow purchase of key lands

The Basin features innumerable natural and recreational opportunities in many environments: forests, beaches, moun-tains and wetlands. To protect areas like these while meeting local priorities, the Trust helps communities and organizations acquire key pieces of land and will be launching a new land acquisition program this fall.

Since 1998, the Trust has helped preserve over 113,000 hectares of ecologically valuable private land. Some of this has been in the West Kootenay, where the Trust recently supported the purchase of two properties important for their environmental values and use by locals and visitors alike.


In Crawford Bay, residents had developed a community park and conservation area in coordination with a private landowner. When the owner chose to sell the 185-acre parcel, its future now uncertain, the Trust helped the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) purchase the land, preserving its environment and this valued recreation area.

The new Crawford Bay Regional Park includes three distinct riparian and wetland areas that are home to more than 90 bird species and many plant and wildlife species.

It provides habitat for several species at risk, including the Coeur d’Alene salamander, blotched tiger salamander, western toad, painted turtle and great blue heron. Crawford and Beaver creeks, located on the property, are habitats for bull trout, kokanee and endangered white sturgeon.

These environmental values are closely integrated with recreational opportunities on the property, such as a beach and hiking and biking trails alongside the wetlands maintained by the East Shore Trail and Bike Alliance. The public will have opportunities to help preserve these wetlands, plus will be invited to give input to the RDCK to guide its operations and decision-making for the park.

Stuart Horn, RDCK Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, says, “The purchase will provide a large, water-access recreational asset that the public will be able to enjoy.”


Across Kootenay Lake and 12 kilometres south of Nelson, the RDCK also used Trust support to purchase 21.6 hectares, which had been slated for logging, next to the 0.8-hectare Cottonwood Lake Regional Park. This will increase the size of the park, which is used by over 16,000 people each year for activities like swimming, fishing, boating and cross-country skiing and is connected to nearby communities by the Nelson-Salmo Great Northern Trail and the Great Trail.

As with the Crawford Bay purchase, the expansion of the regional park will ensure that current and future generations can enjoy this small part of the Basin’s biological diversity and natural heritage.

“Over the next few years, the RDCK will endeavour to make the park’s nature-based recreation activities more accessible and inclusive,” says RDCK Parks Planner Mark Crowe. “Even more residents will be able to benefit from the land purchase as they continue to discover, value and enjoy Cottonwood Lake and all that it has to offer.”

A bright addition to Darkwoods

Many groups take on the vital task of acquiring important lands. For example, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, with Trust support, recently purchased the previously unprotected Next Creek watershed within the Darkwoods Conservation Area. This increased the area by 14 per cent and brought the network of protected spaces between Nelson and Creston to about 1,100 square kilometres.

Reviving Wetlands and a Traditional Hunting Ground

Culture, history and ecology take the forefront in Yaqan Nuʔkiy project

A new project is helping the Yaqan Nuʔkiy—also known as the Lower Kootenay Band—restore traditional hunting grounds near the mouth of Goat River. This area has been known by many names, including anaxamnamki, which means “where the people hunt.”

In days past, the Yaqan Nuʔkiy people paddled canoes to use the wetlands throughout this valley bottom near Creston. But historical changes intended to improve a 517-hectare area ended up cutting off a portion of it from the flood plain, degrading habitat value and allowing invasive species, both plant and animal, to creep in.

Major improvements will restore habitat for a diversity of fish and wildlife species, including white sturgeon, burbot, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, westslope cutthroat trout, northern leopard frog, western painted turtle and various waterfowl.

“We’re trying to create a lot of habitat for them,” says Community Planner Norm Allard.

The restoration will benefit plant life too, including wild potato, cattail, bulrush, sedges and other plants traditionally used by the Ktunaxa, such as early spring plants that become part of annual feasts.

“The people in the community utilize all of that,” he says. “We can go out and harvest a bit of it, and keep those practices alive.”

The area was once a natural flood plain, but human-caused changes, beginning in the 1930s, have had undesirable effects. This in turn has created a perfect environment for invasive species like the American bullfrog and reed canary grass.

The project will now use 1929 aerial photos that show the natural configuration of the wetlands, and the knowledge of Yaqan Nuʔkiy Elders, to bring the area closer to its previous condition.

The long list of actions includes removing 1.9 kilometres of dam surrounding the entire area, restoring a 1.2-kilometre reach of Goat River South that was separated from Goat River, enhancing 600 metres of ditch so it acts like a natural river channel, restoring wetlands and streams, and re-establishing a diversity of culturally and ecologically important vegetation. Significant erosion will be controlled along Goat River by resloping and restoring native vegetation on over one kilometre of vertical banks.

The plans have given Yaqan Nuʔkiy members hope for the future of these wetlands—a future that will hopefully look more like the past.

“Thirty years ago, you would see clouds of thousands of ducks,” says Allard. “Now, there are far fewer. We hope to restore more of their habitat and see how much population the area can sustain.”

Supporting and strengthening ecosystem health in the Basin

The Yaqan Nuʔkiy are undertaking this project with support from the Trust’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program. This five-year, $10-million initiative supports large-scale, on-the-ground projects that aim to maintain and improve ecological health and native biodiversity.

Feeding Families While Reducing Waste

Creston Valley food recovery projects bring fruit products and skills to people in the Basin

When July rolls around, cherries dot the Creston Valley landscape. Now, even more people in the Basin can look forward to enjoying this abundance as two food recovery projects work to reduce food waste and help families meet their nutritional needs.


When it comes to cherries, the Creston Valley sees about 40 dump truck loads a year discarded because of poor looks or size. Since 2017, the Fields Forward Society—which promotes a vibrant, productive local agri-food system—has used its Kootenay Mobile Press to help farmers turn about 200,000 pounds of these cherries into juice. Now it will be doing even more by making its own juice.
This year, in a Trust-supported project, the society plans to divert two of these truckloads—about 15,525 pounds of cherries—to make 3,375 litres of cherry juice. It will also work to develop fruit leather or other cherry products from the “mash” (crushed cherry pulp) left over from juicing.

“There is so much mash from the process,” says Coordinator Elizabeth Quinn. “The mash would either end up as compost or in the landfill, so it’s a missed opportunity not to create value-added products.”

The society will then distribute the juice and additional products to about 2,250 low-income people:

    • 800 through the Nelson Community Food Centre
    • 800 through the Cranbrook Food Bank Society
    • 200 through the Creston Valley Gleaners Society Food Bank and families sponsored by the Creston Refugee Committee
    • 450 through Christmas hampers in Creston and the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area A.

This wide distribution will help redistribute quality food to people who can have a hard time accessing nutritional products.

Quinn says, “It’s very important to me to value what we have in the valley.”

The society will also experiment with other cherry products, including purchasing a dehydrator by early spring 2020. With consultation from a food scientist, it also plans to establish a process that can be adapted to discarded items from other crops, hopefully giving incentive to new entrepreneurs.

“Some producers want to add value to the mash but don’t have the time to think it through,” says Quinn. In this way, Fields Forward will be helping them out.


The Creston Valley Food Action Coalition—which runs the Creston farmers’ market—will also be using Trust support to undertake a food recovery project.

The project’s name—Harvest Share Food Recovery 2.0—is taken from the coalition’s Harvest Share program. This program recovers 18,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables annually and shares it with agencies, families and volunteers—enough for 288 families’ annual intake of produce. Harvest Share 2.0 will take that recovery a step further.

First, the coalition is helping Fields Forward package the cherry juice it will be creating with its mobile press. Second, it’s hosting Whole Food for Whole Family cooking classes, which teach families to cook with nutritious, seasonal, local food. The 12-week program began in late July 2019 and is being attended by families brought to Creston by the Creston Refugee Committee and participants in the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program. The 2019 classes focus on preparation, and the 2020 classes will include sessions on preservation and canning.

“The classes show how to source natural food in the valley at a low cost, so everybody can make nutritious food for the family,” says James Gates, Co-chair. “It’s really an extension of what the Food Action Coalition tries to do. We harvest food and distribute it to agencies, but people don’t always know what to do with it.”

Between the juicing and the classes, Gates comments that there’s huge opportunity to keep even more food from rotting. “It’s an opportunity to turn what’s wasted into nutritious food for those who need it.”