Fernie and other Columbia Basin communities are vibrant, welcoming places thanks to the people who live here, the opportunities they provide and the resources they offer that support well-being. As all communities respond and work together to meet the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia Basin Trust is here to help.
In April, we announced $11.7 million to immediately support the region through this extraordinary situation. The additional resources are helping:
- Community social service organizations, like food banks, housing providers, hospices and licensed child care operators, adapt their services to continue helping our most vulnerable and meet people’s basic needs.
- First Nations communities and Metis associations meet the needs of their members.
- Food recovery groups to ramp up their programs to reduce food waste and help families eat nutritious meals.
- Farmer’ markets to operate this coming season to ensure they can continue providing locally grown, nutritious food.
- Expand the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which offers coupons for farmers’ markets to lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women.
- Local food producers meet growing demand for their products.
- Community organizations address young children’s healthy development and the needs of their families, including developing online workshops for parents and activities for youngsters.
- Local colleges assist students experiencing financial hardships.
We’re also looking at the broader ways people connect. The pandemic has highlighted the increased importance of, and demand for, high-speed internet. To this end, we’re helping internet service providers undertake projects to better serve Basin communities, complementing support recently announced by the provincial government.
Throughout the world and at home, we’ve also seen how businesses and employees are being impacted. To assist, we’re offering opportunities like low-interest loans through our new Small Business Working Capital Loans and increased assistance through several existing programs: Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP, Summer Works, Career Internship Program, Basin Business Advisors and Training Fee Support. The benefits are far-reaching: to the businesses themselves, their staff and ultimately the wider Basin economy.
Local businesses, services, communities and people are stepping up to the plate in countless ways. I’m inspired by their resiliency, ability to adapt and their creativity. We are stronger together.
Twenty-five years ago, the Trust was created to support the efforts of the people of the Basin, then and for the future. The people and communities of the Basin have proven their resiliency time and again, and now, during these unprecedented times, I am confident in our collective ability to persevere and come out stronger than ever.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation, including how we can address any gaps. Check out the resources available at ourtrust.org/covid19 or call 1.800.505.8998.
Most of all, may we all be kind and compassionate to one another and follow the advice of our public health professionals. It’s the key to making communities like Fernie vibrant once again.