It’s easy to fall in love with the Columbia Basin. You may have lived here all your life. You may have left for a while and been drawn back. You may have arrived as a tourist and felt compelled to stay. You may have moved here to grab an opportunity.

No matter why you’re here, there are so many reasons to feel at home. We have vibrant communities, amazing cultural and heritage assets, and welcoming and enthusiastic people. Our businesses and industries are strong and varied. And we have epic outdoor spaces that offer tons of ways to relax and play.

Read ahead to hear from three people who have been captivated by the region. You’ll also read more about how Columbia Basin Trust is working with residents to address the region’s challenges and strengthen the places we love.

Together, we’re keeping this an unparalleled place in which to live, work and play.

LIVE

Some 44 years ago, Caleb Moss’s parents were travelling through Canada. Their vehicle broke down. They were from California, but found themselves stuck in the beautiful Basin. Like so many of us are, they were in awe of the location and decided to make Golden their home.

Today, their son is still a resident of Golden. Although he attended university in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, and has worked in big cities, he has now resettled in his original community. “It’s just easier here,” he explains, “and a better place to raise my kids.”

This is the reason many of us live here. We can raise our families with an active sense of community. We have good schools, with average class sizes lower than the provincial average. We have over 150 social service organizations, providing services like literacy, counselling, housing and food security. We can navigate streets without congestion. We can easily play in nature. We can volunteer and make a difference.

“This is the reason many of us live here. We can raise our families with an active sense of community.”

Moss now owns Bacchus Books and Café on Golden’s downtown stretch, a thin strip of a yellow building with a patio fronting the Kicking Horse River. He has also entered local politics—as a town councillor and Golden’s appointee on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District—to help strengthen the local quality of life.

In these roles—as well as being a recipient of a Trust grant to self-publish poetry—Moss understands the value of the Trust’s contributions to small communities. “They enhance regional government’s ability to make small communities more livable,” he says. “And there’s really nowhere else that has that.”

WORK

Heidi Romich has travelled and lived in various places around the world, including Austria, the Bahamas and Malaysia. But despite this worldly background and her international experiences in the food and beverage industry, it’s her hometown of Cranbrook where she decided to build her business.

Wanting to return close to family and seeing an opportunity, Romich and her late husband started Heidi’s Restaurant in 1999, then expanded it in 2006. In 2013 Romich revamped it into The Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse, adding pub fare alongside fine dining options, and starting a brewery from the ground up, that features seasonal artisan ales.

“We make everything from scratch,” she says, plus the restaurant sources ingredients locally. “I think this focus is one of the reasons the community has embraced our restaurant.” That—and the ambrosial meals created by its five Red Seal chefs, who have completed a rigorous apprenticeship process.

Entrepreneurial opportunities like this abound in the Basin, whether in the service industry, tourism or high-tech innovation. Plus residents can choose from careers in larger industries like forestry, mining and transportation and more.

Thanks to assets like broadband Internet and the newest in research and development resources, doorways are always open. Businesses, entrepreneurs and other residents are able to balance work aspirations and financial demands with the lifestyles they want.

Even outside of her business, Romich has seen how receptive the Basin is to people seeking employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. For 12 years she’s taught culinary arts at College of the Rockies. She says that if program graduates “want to stay in the region, the jobs are definitely here.”

Although Romich didn’t need Trust support to help her business flourish, she’s well aware of the variety and impact of its programs and knows the good it can do in communities. The Trust, she says, is “unbelievable. I can’t say enough. I think it’s an amazing asset for our whole region.”

“We make everything from scratch,” she says, plus the restaurant sources ingredients locally. “I think this focus is one of the reasons the community has embraced our restaurant.”

PLAY

Lucas Myers is passionate about the arts. The 43-year-old was raised in Nelson, then left to formally study theatre in Montreal and New York City. He has since brought his skills back to his childhood city, where he is now also raising a family.

Taking advantage of the bustling local arts scene, Myers is the artistic director of a small theatre company called Pilotcopilot Theatre. He also frequently tours the Kootenays with his productions. It’s this culturally welcoming atmosphere that helps make the Basin a great place in which to play, whether for fun or as a career.

To many people, the most obvious way to play is outdoors. The Columbia River flows through a gorgeous, rich landscape. The same snow that skiers and snowboarders slide on in winter becomes the water kayakers and rafters use in summer. There are hidden jewels for climbers, and lakes to cool ourselves off in. Sheltered tails weave through stands of cedar, hemlock, spruce and pine.

Basin residents have also made it clear that artistic activities are important. So important, in fact, that they have told the Trust that cultural activities and community spirit stand at the top of what makes our communities great.

“It is really reassuring to see the Trust recognize the importance of the arts,” says Myers, “not just to the cultural community, but to the community in general.”

“It’s this culturally welcoming atmosphere that helps make the Basin a great place in which to play, whether for fun or as a career.”