Funding for community initaitives changes

The Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds program may have come to an end after its contract expired with CBT

The Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds (CVCDF) program may have come to an end after its three-year contract expired with Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), but the program’s committee will continue in an advisory role.

Three years ago, the Trust granted the program’s committee $600,000 to fund initiatives across the valley. Money was given to the Family Resource Centre, Invest Kootenay, Greenways Trail Alliance, the Permanent Resident Retention and Attraction program, and to other branding and marketing initiatives around the valley.

“It is hard to say what the future holds for the committee. However, the members of the committee as well as CBT are committed to continue working together with the focus on valley-wide strategic initiatives,” said Wendy Booth, the committee’s chair, in an email.

For now, the committee will continue to meet quarterly, playing an advisory and strategic role for CBT. Funding will come directly from CBT, which will make final discretionary decisions.

“The input of the committee will be one aspect of the decisionmaking process that CBT will use,” Booth said. “It is hard to say how it will rate in comparison to other aspects.”

If there are major funding projects up for deliberation outside of the quarterly meeting schedule, the committee will be able to use an online forum to give input.

Wayne Lundeberg, CBT’s director for the delivery of benefits, said the shift in structure should ultimately allow the committee to assume the role CBT had hoped it would three years ago.

“The real value in the committee was to have a regional lens to look at what the real challenges in the area were,” Lundeberg said. “They are not meant to look at projects per se, although we will look for their input on major projects, but really this is more for the things that they started in the last months of their mandate, like a regional marketing approach and other strategic initiatives like that.”

The CVCDF was the first of six regional committees across CBT’s territory, meaning it was also the first contract to expire. According to Lundeberg, during the CVCDF’s tenure, it served as an example for the other committees.

“They worked hard at it, but they had some real challenges at getting traction,” Lundeberg said. “What we discovered in going through the process is that a lot of their resources were being chewed up doing a lot of the administrative work of the committee.”

The new structure will take administrative pressures away from the volunteer-based committee. Instead, CBT staff will handle strategic funding administration.

Lundeberg said the other major problem with the committee’s structure was that it had to spend $200,000 each year, which caused unnecessary restrictions to the size of initiatives that could be considered. Under the new system, CBT will consider spending more than $200,000 per year, if the initiatives under consideration warrant the investment.

“Community development does not always happen equally each year,” said Lundeberg, adding that projects like the District of Invermere’s multi-use centre would have drained the committee’s full budget.

So far, the Columbia Valley’s committee is the only one to accept the parameters of the new directed funds structure. Lundeberg said CBT is thrilled to work closely with the various community leaders currently serving on the committee.

“Going forward, the committee will be operating with our support as long as they want to and as long as we all feel there is useful, meaningful work coming out of the partnership,” Lundeberg said.

The CVCDF committee (now under CBT) is comprised of the five RDEK directors (Gerry Wilkie, Clara Reinhardt, Gerry Taft, Wendy Booth and Ute Juras) plus Craig Knapp, John Rouse, Dee Conklin, Rick Thompson and Melanie Sam.