Opinion: The CBT DRAFT strategic plan is worth looking at, talking about, and giving your opinion on – to CBT.

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
August 19th, 2020

Columbia Basin Trust is a unique and amazing organization, with huge benefits to residents of the Columbia Basin.  As most people know, it was set up in 1995 with a lump-sum settlement to help compensate the region for damage and losses caused by construction of dams under the Columbia River Treaty, which was signed in 1964, without adequate public consultation beforehand. 

Those dams flooded excellent farmland and orchards and communities; people were forced to leave their homes and farms, land was expropriated from some, and displaced owners felt that the compensation provided was inadequate.  Individuals and families suffered financially and emotionally, but the entire region suffered a permanent and significant loss of agricultural production and capacity. 

For a simplified history with more detail, click this link.

Now, Columbia Basin Trust is drafting a new short-term Strategic Plan setting out priorities and how to address them, just for the next two years; the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in this shorter planning horizon.  This is everyone’s opportunity to read the draft plan and its priorities, and to express opinions on it.

To prepare the draft Plan, the Trust states that it elicited input from its volunteer boards and advisory committees, local government leaders, and individuals engaged in a range of sectors including business and industry, education, environment, social services, arts, culture and heritage, and youth development. These conversations identified challenges and opportunities in Basin communities, and that input was the basis for developing the draft plan. The Trust is also continuing meetings with Basin First Nations communities and will incorporate this feedback into the plan prior to finalizing.

The draft plan can be read and responded to at ourtrust.org/feedback; it’s clear and succinct.

Then, everyone is encouraged to submit comments on the plan, using the form provided. 

To see the current Trust priorities as determined during the last public engagement process in 2015, click this link: https://ourtrust.org/about/strategic-priorities/

For summaries of public input provided in different Basin communities about their priotities and concerns during consultations by the BC government in 2018 for negotiatons on the Columbia River Treaty — which is, please note, a separate matter entirely from the Trust — click here.

In providing input on the draft strategic plan, residents might consider what our area needs most urgently.  Do the priorities identified in the CBT document address them adequately?  Is the plan bold enough?  Does it identify the best actions available within CBT’s mandate and powers?

Read and consider, and then weigh in with your thoughts and suggestions before 4:30 pm on September 11, 2020.  Your editor suggests that participatory democracy functions best with participation and engagement pre-decision – not just second-guessing, griping and carping post-decision.   

As CBT President and CEO  Johnny Strilaef said on behalf of CBT,   “Like so many others, we have adapted our approach to engagement and to planning in response to COVID-19. We appreciate that people took the time to speak with us over the summer and tell us what matters in their communities. I hope all Basin residents now do the same and give us their feedback on how the Trust can support their aspirations. This is the Trust’s 25th year, and public input is as fundamental to the Trust now as it was in 1995.”

Basin residents without internet service can call the Trust toll-free to request a hard copy of the draft plan, and to then either share their feedback directly in conversation with Trust staff or in writing to the Trust.

After the Trust integrates feedback from the public into the draft plan, the Trust Board of Directors will review the document at its September meeting, with an aim of sharing the final approved plan in late September.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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