Public Spaces Add State-of-the-Art Technology

Access to state-of-the-art technology can spark opportunities to learn, connect and bring creative ideas to life. Nine communities in the Columbia Basin will soon have new digital equipment, software and other technologies that people can use for free to enhance their digital literacy and get creative. These purchases are being made with support of over $613,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Technology Program.

“In this digital world, technological resources are important, but obtaining them individually can be beyond the means of many,” said Aimee Ambrosone, Director, Delivery of Benefits, at Columbia Basin Trust. “By installing sophisticated equipment like this in public facilities and offering digital literacy programming, people of all ages and abilities will be able to use and benefit from these tech-enabled spaces.”

The two-year, $1.5-million program provides grants to registered non-profit organizations, First Nations and local governments that operate public spaces like libraries and community centres. The grants support the purchase of equipment like 3-D printers, robotics kits, recording studio equipment and computers with specialized software. If required, the organizations may also renovate their spaces and buy furniture to create suitable venues for the equipment. Programs such as classes and workshops that train people how to use the equipment are also supported.

Here are a few of the recipients:

The Fernie Heritage Library will be creating a technology hub with three main components: a digitization station that will enable people to convert old formats (for example VHS tapes) into digital forms, an editing and creation station with computers and software, and a makerspace with equipment like a 3-D printer and laser cutter.

“The technology hub will be a place for the community to use technology to make new things,” said Director Emma Dressler. “It will be a place of innovation and inspiration, where people can interact with their environment in new ways, learn new skills and come together in new ways.”

The Okanagan Regional Library’s Golden branch will be adding a range of items that will help citizens of all skill levels do sound recordings, digitize older formats (such as slides, vinyl or tape), create and modify video projects, and learn other digital skills.  

“These skills are critical for citizens of all ages in the 21st century,” said Don Nettleton, Chief Executive Officer. “Having this equipment situated in the library allows all citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status, the opportunity to participate, provided they have a curious mind and a valid library card.”

In the Village of Slocan, the Learning Centre will expand its current offerings by adding a laser cutter and engraver, 3-D printers, robotics kits, a video-conferencing station and software. This space is run by the W.E. Graham Community Service Society.

“Through improved technology and programming, we hope to support our community members in enhancing their technology-related skills and ultimately quality of life,” said Learning Centre Manager Heather Clouston. “This will build skills and engage people in the community in new ways.”

The Community Technology Program has a two-stage application process. The next expression of interest deadline is May 6, 2019. Selected organizations will work with a program advisor to develop their project concept and write an application. Learn more at ourtrust.org/communitytech

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.