The Columbia Basin Trust’s revenues grew to a record $96 million in 2021-22.
“Last year was a really strong year across all of our investments, from power projects to loans and investments in real estate in the region as well as our investment in a portfolio of market securities,” CEO Johnny Strilaeff says. “So the contribution of all those investments allowed us to increase our community supports.”
In the same period, the Trust returned nearly $88 million to Basin community and residents in the form of $62 million in grants to help nearly 2,400 projects as well as $12.5 million in capital spending including increasing broadband infrastructure in rural areas. It further gave out $5.9 million in business loans and $7 million in real estate and commercial investments.
About three-quarters of the Trust’s income came from its joint ownership with Columbia Power Corporation of four hydroelectric projects. Strilaeff said they expect that will continue to be the case “well into the future or maybe forever.”
Strilaeff said right now there is no directive from the provincial government to develop further large or small scale power projects, but that could change later in the decade if B.C. shifts from a surplus to deficit position in power generation, particularly if demand increases to power electric vehicles or meet climate-change related goals.
While the $96 million was the most the Trust has ever recorded in its 27 years and exceeded their own forecast, Strilaeff said they expect it will remain relatively stable over the next few years, “which is great for Basin residents.”
“There’s an assurance those dollars are going to continue to be there to support their priorities. It’s also helpful for planning purposes to not have a lot of up and down in revenue and you’re able to dedicate resources to longer-term programs.”
The Trust provides a variety of funding programs, some that are offered every year, and others for a few years at a time, based on whatever priorities are identified in their strategic plans.
During COVID, Strilaeff said the organization had to “fundamentally change” their internal operations. It also meant setting aside their budget and asking residents, virtually, what was now most important to them.
The Trust recently released its annual report. Its strategic plan expires at the end of 2023 and to renew it, it plans a public input process that will begin this fall and run for a year, including in-person community meetings, virtual meetings, and symposia.
Their annual general meeting will be held in person in Valemount on Sept. 22 from 4 to 5 p.m. Pacific (5 to 6 p.m. Mountain) and also online. To attend in-person or online, register at ourtrust.org/agm.