Enhancing Outdoor Community Spaces

As days grow warmer, people in the Columbia Basin are looking forward to enjoying outdoor spaces—those in nature, and those in our communities. Looking ahead to times when restrictions ease, many communities are wondering how they can make the gathering places within their limits more welcoming and useable, or how they can add new ones altogether.

To realize their ideas, some communities have turned to Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Outdoor Revitalization Grants. Currently, this program is providing over $1.3 million to help 10 communities undertake such projects.

“Residents have told us how important outdoor gathering places are in their communities—to host events, share food, be physically active and connect with others. As we look forward to safely coming together again, the Trust is supporting community efforts to create spaces that residents and visitors can enjoy,” said Will Nixon, Senior Manager of Delivery of Benefits at Columbia Basin Trust. “These new or refreshed sites will help strengthen community pride, aid local businesses and celebrate the region’s culture.” 

Resulting in vibrant venues where people will one day gather and partake in events and programs, such projects impact community well-being and aid with business renewal—two strategic priorities of the Trust. 

Here are a few examples:

Downtown Beautification Kicks Off

The eastern block of Grainger Road between Burns Avenue and Luck Avenue in downtown Canal Flats will be restored and enhanced as a central community gathering place. The Village Centre Beautification project is a community priority for Canal Flats. First phase improvements will include signage highlighting local history, as well as new benches and bicycle racks.

“Community aesthetics and implementation of the Village’s Downtown Streetscape Beautification Plan is a strategic priority of Council,” said Village of Canal Flats Mayor Karl Sterzer. “This will enable phase one of the beautification plan to be implemented—taking a project off the page and making a tangible improvement to the quality of place in downtown Canal Flats. We’re eager and excited to get started on this and other projects that will make Canal Flats an even more attractive place to be.”

A Dedicated Community Gathering Space

The Fauquier Community Club will build a timber frame pavilion to create an outdoor gathering space for community events and connections. The space will host a range of activities such as farmers markets, live music, picnics, fundraisers, children’s outdoor events and other celebrations.

“The idea of a pavilion was born out of the time when COVID-19 restricted indoor gatherings that both the Fauquier Community Club and locals would normally enjoy,” said Judy Steele with the Fauquier Community Club. “Having a designated outdoor option will greatly benefit our village and facilitate a variety of community gatherings for years to come.”

A Welcoming Venue

The Taghum Community Society will transform the area surrounding the Taghum Hall into a welcoming venue for families and visitors to enjoy during Hall events and when the Hall is closed. New landscaping, benches and picnic tables will compliment a covered gazebo that can be used for picnics, wedding ceremonies and as a performance stage during festivals and farmers markets.

“Since the 1950s, Taghum Hall has been a beloved gathering place, maintained through volunteerism and goodwill,” said Jude Stralak, Chair of the Taghum Community Society. "The Hall has a legacy of community-building and this exciting project will make it an even more welcoming place for the whole community to enjoy.”

Refreshing Upgrades to a Community Hub

The Ymir Community Association will make improvements to the Riverside Community Park with a new gazebo and upgrades to washroom facilities. The park already has a well-utilized skate park, pump track and multi-purpose court, as well as a camping area. By refreshing this area, residents and visitors will be able to spend the day in the hub of town and build community connections. When larger events are permitted again and during the summer, guests in the campground will also have access to the facilities.

“Ymir has seen an incredible number of families using the downtown area because of the new skatepark and multi-purpose court. The Ymir Riverside Day Use Area will offer a place for families to gather, eat, put on skates, take a break from basketball and biking, and for seniors to rest in between games of pickle ball or tennis,” said Isabelle Herzig, with the Ymir Community Association. “It will be an amazing space to relax and enjoy and bring the community together. The park will be part of the Nelson/Salmo Great Northern Trail and is managed by the RDCK in cooperation with the Ymir Community Association.”

Learn more about Community Outdoor Revitalization Grants at ourtrust.org/communityoutdoorgrants.

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.