The Columbia Basin Trust served delicious dinners to appreciative participants at the Kimberley and Cranbrook public input sessions on Jan. 14 and 20 respectively. Both sessions were well-attended with near equal numbers, but, on a per capita basis, Kimberley excelled.
The Kimberley session was held at the Kimberley Centennial Hall where the CBT provided wrapped sandwiches and soup, coffee and juice.
The Cranbrook session was held at a more refined venue — the Cranbrook Railway Museum dining room; a proper fried potatoes and chicken smorgasbord was offered, with coffee included.
Assembled around their respective dining tables, the participants wrote down and discussed what they appreciated about their communities and what could be done with CBT funding to improve them, and then selected a spokesperson who synthesized and articulated the table’s suggestions. Though divergent feel-good fancies were voiced at both Kimberley and Cranbrook, “support for the arts” emerged as a common theme. An enhanced internet, a multi-faceted community hall, and agrarian self-sufficiency were included in Kimberley’s wish list of suggestions.
In Cranbrook, funding for more search and rescue equipment was perhaps the most concise & clearly defined suggestion; and one likely to be approved. CBT officials declared that they could not fund standard municipal infrastructure (e.g. street repairs), thereby nullifying otherwise credible suggestions.
From one of the tables, someone articulated the downside of onetime grants: they were not conducive to sustaining ongoing programs.
Invermere and Fernie were scheduled as the other East Kootenay CBT public input locales.
The trust has $20 million to distribute in British Columbia’s Columbia River watershed this year, and reports to the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines. Though its dinner table engagement model for the solicitation of public opinions elicited more scattershot diversity than focused consensus, the experience was both informative and amusing; and much preferred to enduring an insufferable PowerPoint presentation. My own spontaneous first thought as to what made Cranbrook attractive was that the Rockies were prominent on our eastern horizon; a pastoral perspective that, if universally shared, would ensure that we never received any special funding.