Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO of Columbia Basin Trust.

Here come the 2020s: CBT president Johnny Strilaeff

A series featuring local leaders writing their predictions for the future

Columbia Basin Trust President and CEO Johnny Strilaeff says engaging with the public will be a priority in 2020. He’s asking people to imagine the possibilities for the future of this region.

This coming year the Trust is turning 25. It’s a chance to celebrate all that we have been able to accomplish together with people and communities.

It’s also a time to recognize and honour those who saw an opportunity in 1995 to create this unique, regional organization that would support the efforts by the people of the Columbia Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being in the region most affected by the Columbia River Treaty. The focus then was on the future, and this year, we’ll be asking residents to look ahead to the next 25 years.

We are entering the last year of our five-year Columbia Basin Management Plan. This plan sets out 13 primary strategic priorities and has shaped our programming and initiatives since 2016. Last year, we delivered a record $62.6 million in benefits to our communities through more than 70 programs and initiatives supporting over 1,750 projects.

The Trust supports regional priorities that enhance our quality of life and make this region such a desirable place to live. Significant investments in affordable housing, creating tech-enabled spaces, broadband, ecosystem enhancement and environmental education, child care, and arts, culture and heritage are only a few examples of the work we are doing to support regional priorities.

The Trust’s focus as we move into 2020 is engaging with people in the Columbia Basin about their bold and innovative ideas for the future of this region. We’ve already started some of the engagement by speaking with our board, staff and advisory committees. Starting in the spring, we will be hosting conversations in communities and online about where people see opportunities.

What will this plan look like? What are we hoping to achieve? What can we learn from the past that will inform how we work in the future? What do we want our region to look like five, 10, 15, even 20 years from now? These questions will form the basis of our discussions with residents in 2020. Watch for more details at engage.ourtrust.org.

Lastly, the Trust will be hosting our symposia in the fall. For the first time we are hosting the events in two locations to allow more people to take part: one in Trail, Oct. 2 to 4 and one in Golden Oct. 23 to 25. It will also mark the final stage of our community engagement process and the start of reporting back on what we heard. Save the date and visit symposium.ourtrust.org for more details.

2020 will be an exciting year, and I look forward to celebrating and engaging with people from Castlegar to Fernie to Valemount.

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