Kids work on projects at the Nelson Tech Club, located at the Nelson and District Youth Centre. The city is receiving $22,000 from Columbia Basin Trust for more tech equipment at the centre. Photo: Tyler Harper

Public tech access funded by Columbia Basin Trust

The Trust is investing $480,000 in 16 communities

People in 16 communities including Nelson, Kaslo, Riondel, and New Denver, will have the opportunity to access state-of-the-art technology for free as public facilities purchase items such as high-tech recording and digitization equipment and teach people how to use them. These projects are being realized with nearly $480,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s community technology program.

• The City of Nelson will receive $22,000 for virtual reality equipment, electronics including circuit kits, robots, iPads and a mobile charging cart, and digital literacy programming at the Nelson and District Youth Centre.

• The Village of New Denver will receive $15,580 for four computer stations, digitization equipment, photo and film editing software, remote learning opportunities, digital literacy programming, and electrical upgrades at the Knox Hall Reading Centre.

• The Kaslo and District Public Library Association will receive $7,737 for laptops, a mobile charging cart, HD video camera, software such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop and digital literacy programming.

• In Riondel, the Senior Citizens Association Branch 96 will work alongside the Riondel Reading Room to install a computer lab with printing and scanning, a video editing station and a virtual reality lab at the Riondel Community Centre.

“The range of equipment and programs will appeal to all ages and skill levels,” said Frances O’Rourke, association president. “The activities available through these technologies will provide mental stimulus for our senior members and will provide opportunities for intergenerational activities with the community’s youth, contributing to a stronger, more integrated community.”

Announced in fall 2018, this program provided grants to registered non-profit organizations, First Nations communities and local governments that operate public spaces like libraries and community centres. This final intake adds to the nine communities that received support earlier this year, bringing the program’s project total to 25 tech-enabled spaces.

“This program helps communities meet the evolving needs of the people who live in them, increasing opportunities to access the latest technology and improve their digital literacy,” said Nicole MacLellan, manager, delivery of benefits. “The ability to access and use technology is a must in today’s world. We were particularly pleased with the response from so many small and rural communities that are working to increase access and bridge the digital divide.”

Besides computers, specialized software and other equipment, the grants also enable the organizations to renovate their spaces and buy furniture to create suitable venues. They may also use the funding to train staff and volunteers so they can help residents use the new technology, and to provide barrier-free programming and training to the public, such as classes and workshops, one-on-one coaching and online resources.

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