The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has announced $11.7 million in new funding to provide immediate support for basin residents who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release on Thursday, April 2, CBT explained that they are offering support to small businesses, vulnerable populations and community organizations through new and existing programs.
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge for the Basin, and we have heard from communities, residents and our partners on different ways we can help,” said Johnny Strilaeff, CBT President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are responding with immediate support to assist the region through this extraordinary time. This includes support for businesses, First Nations communities, food banks, social service agencies and child care operators.”
The Trust will be providing interest free loans through their new Small Business Working Capital Loan program to help them meet their immediate needs. The one-time loan offers up to $25,000 with a minimum request of $5,000.
The Trust will also increase support to existing programs including the Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP, Summer Works, the Career Internship Program, Basin Business Advisors and Training Free Support.
New funding for First Nations communities, Métis associations, food banks, housing societies, hospices, licensed child care operators and community social service agencies is also available.
Part of the Trust’s plans include helping social service organizations switch to a digital format, so that their programming and supports are still available to residents.
CBT will provide funds to organizations that serve the most vulnerable in the community. The funds are intended to be used for the following:
• capital renovations and purchases to modify and adapt physical space to COVID-19service delivery requirements (this includes renovations such as: secondary entrance, plexi-glass shields, hand washing stations and other physical modifications)
• new or enhanced service delivery expenses to help residents, such as: remote service delivery, COVID-related counselling and support, transportation costs, food vouchers, food delivery and cleaning supplies
• workplace adaptation expenses to support remote working and ensure service delivery can continue (e.g. laptops, phones, remote working software subscriptions), as well as technology and subscription purchases for clients who demonstrate financial need and require technology to access services or education/training
• loss of revenue and expenses resulting from closures, cancelled services or programs, bans on community gatherings, and other financial disruptions due to COVID-19.
“Not only will this increased funding support business and community organizations to address COVID-19 impacts, each dollar is invested in our region and will provide broader economic development benefits,” said Strilaeff. “During this most difficult time, I encourage everyone to follow public health recommendations and to be kind, compassionate and supportive of one another.”
CBT has also taken several other measures to continue to support the region while meeting public health requirements. This includes postponing the public engagement process to renew its strategic plan, closing all Trust offices to the public, and communicating with the people and organizations it works with.