Columbia Basin Trust Sustainable Energy Grants

Basin Community Buildings Get Fresh Energy – Sustainably!

Columbia Basin Buildings Get Energized - Sustainably

Renewable energy upgrades in 16 Columbia Basin community buildings will generate energy, increase energy efficiency and sustainability, and reduce energy costs.

These sustainability projects are being realized with over $650,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Energy Sustainability Grants.

The buildings range from community halls to aquatic centres, and activities vary from installing solar panels to adding heat pumps. Projects may also include improvements like adding insulation and replacing furnaces and lighting to help the benefits from the projects go further.

“People regularly use and appreciate these buildings, and many have told us they want to explore ways to use energy efficiently and sustainably, which is why we’ve made renewable and alternative energy one of our strategic priorities,” said Mark Brunton, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Through these grants, these important community assets will now be equipped to generate and conserve energy, while moving into the future as inviting, comfortable spaces.”

The community of ʔaq̓am is one of the recipients. It will be adding solar panels to its new health and wellness facility, which is just starting construction.

“The community has been putting a focus on sustainable energy usage, and we realize that sustainable high-quality buildings are essential for a healthy community and ecosystem,” said Nasuʔkin Joe Pierre. “This building is a great opportunity to implement the technology, with results to be considered during future ʔaq̓am projects and shared with other interested communities.”

The Burton Community Association will be adding solar panels to its community hall, reducing power usage by switching to LED lights and adding a Level 2 electric vehicle charging station.

“Having solar power at the community hall will cut our electricity bill, plus be an opportunity for locals to see the benefits of solar and how it works,” said Board member Barbara Ross. “Adding the electric vehicle charging stations will encourage community uptake on electric vehicles and enable travelers with electric vehicles to come to the area and explore our community.”

This is one of the ways the Columbia Basin Trust is helping communities conserve energy and generate renewable and alternative energy. The Trust has supported an electric vehicle charging network across the Basin, and the Trust has helped improve energy efficiency and sustainability in 935 units in 47 affordable housing buildings in the Basin.

Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future Conference 2019

Clean Energy BC Conference – Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future 2019

Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future Conference 2019

The Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future, June 4th-6th, 2019, showcases Trail and the Kootenays’ legacy of engineering excellence and how this impacts innovation in the region’s tech sector.

Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future is a three-day conference provides a networking opportunity to connect clean energy industry professionals, community leaders, First Nations, and technology innovators; providing a platform for urban-rural knowledge sharing.

Attendees will engage in dialogue that encourages economic diversification through clean energy projects and pushing the tech frontier, recognizing the Kootenays as a thriving hub.

Who Should Attend Clean Energy BC Powering Generations?

Clean energy industry professional
Community shaper
Clean tech enthusiast
Policy designer
First Nations leader
Young professional aspiring to join the industry

Powering Generations is the ideal setting for you to collaborate, network, and share your knowledge with others!

KAST board member Jason Taylor, a specialist in digital fabrication, rapid prototyping and advanced manufacturing and an Instructor and Researcher at Selkirk College, will be speaking at Powering Generations 2019.

Jason was fundamental in the development and implementation of the MIDAS Fab Lab and will be speaking at Plenary 3 — Building the Clean Economy: Job Opportunities with CleanBC.

Join Jason at Powering Generations and register today! REGISTER NOW!

Who is Clean Energy BC?

Clean Energy BC (CEBC) is an industry association that has been the voice of BC’s clean energy industry for over 25 years. CEBC supports BC’s transition to low-carbon energy through the development of effective climate policy and clean energy electrification.

The purpose of our association is to:

    • Promote and support the growth of BC’s clean energy industry
    • Assist the growth of manufacturing, supply, and service industries in BC, serving clean energy production in the province and around the world
    • Build strong relationships with all levels of government, BC Hydro, First Nations, environmental organizations and the public to improve the sector’s social license
    • Ensure the business and regulatory climate is reasonable and efficient for operating assets
    • Improve the regulatory and economic environments for clean energy production in BC
    • Work with environmental organizations to develop science-based clean energy development models

Interested in learning more? Visit Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future.

Public Spaces Add State-of-the-Art Technology

Public Spaces Add State-of-the-Art Technology

Several public spaces throughout the Basin will enjoy becoming more high-tech with support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Technology Program.

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 (photo above) 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

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGame

Selkirk College GLOWS RobotGames 2019!

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGame

A robot competition like no other. Youth from throughout the region will build, program and deck out their robots to enter into RobotGames – a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

RobotGames will take place Saturday, April 13 at the Tenth Street Campus in the Mary Hall Building. Everyone is welcome to attend! The Mary Hall Cafeteria will be open throughout the day or you can choose to bring a lunch!

Registration is FREE!

Imagination meets Technology

RobotGames is open to all youth ages 6 to 18 living in the West Kootenay/ Boundary region. No prior experience is necessary. Youth in teams of one to two people will prepare their robot for the ultimate competition event. Prizes include an iPod touch for the Balloon Popping Royal Rumble which everyone is invited to join. Other prizes will be handed out too!

Check out last year’s event:

The Big Day! What to Expect?!


  • 9 am Registration
  • 10 am Events begin
  • 2:30 pm iPod Touch Balloon Popping Royal Rumble
  • 2:45 pm Awards and Photos


  1. Line following – This event utilizes the obstacle course, except you must follow the line from end to end. There may be crossed or intersected lines, as well as obstacles to create havoc. Speed and accuracy will be highly praised. The line will be about the thickness of the electrical tape. Your mBot kit comes with a simple foldout example for line following.
  2. Obstacle course – Your robot will need to maneuver the obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible. Navigate walls and obstacles to reach the end of the maze.
  3. Robot battles – Two robots enter the open arena to compete as gladiators in the ultimate destruction event. Matches are limited to two minutes and judges will announce a winner. The last robot to make a meaningful hit, overall match polarity and gamesmanship will be rewarded.
  4. Robot soccer: One on one – Grab the most robot soccer balls to your side in two minutes. In the center of the obstacle course is a pile for both teams to grab from. Each team has a 24″ line parallel to the back wall laying claim to your teams’ captured balls. Balls knocked out of the arena will cost you points. Balls can be stolen over and over. Robots may store the balls in some manner but must release them before the clock runs out or they will not be counted in the final score.
  5. Special tricks – Think of something cool and crazy for your robot to do. Dance, tell a joke, fetch an object… use your imagination! Program your robot to do your evil, or not so evil bidding. No dangerous weapons, water, open flames or lasers allowed. Be creative, be awesome!
  6. Balloon popping – Which robot will pop the balloon first?! Enter the ring prepared to burst the balloon before your competitor. Make sure your robot isn’t dangerous in the process. Your aim is to pop the balloon and not your competitor.

Judges will be looking for: 

  • each entry’s design and assembly
  • the programming and logic
  • the robot’s ability to problem-solve
  • the robot’s ability to adapt to challenging situations

Learn more about GLOWS at Selkirk College and follow GLOWS on Facebook. Questions about RobotGames? Please contact Matt Martin.

Improving Internet Access for Basin Residents

Improving High-speed Internet Access for 26 Basin Communities

Improving Internet Access for Basin Residents

Improved high-speed internet is on the way for 26 communities in the Basin, bringing people opportunities to learn, connect and better expand their businesses.

The Province announced today $4.8 million in provincial funding to support the Trust on two new projects to improve broadband access in rural areas.

“In today’s digital age, the internet is part of the foundation for growing good-paying jobs, learning, healthcare and keeping in touch. Our government is committed to a future where everyone in B.C. has access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens Services. “We have incredible tools and resources available to help rural and Indigenous communities form their own digital strategy so they can come forward with applications.”

The Trust’s Broadband Initiative will install fibre-optic infrastructure for two new projects; one in the Slocan Valley to just outside Nakusp, and one in the South Country near Jaffray. New fibre-optic lines will enable internet service providers to offer faster and more reliable services to people throughout the region. The total value of the Slocan Valley and the South Country projects is approximately $10.2 million and includes $4.4 million from the Trust, $420,000 from the Regional District of East Kootenay and $525,000 from the Regional District of Central Kootenay and communities in the Slocan Valley and Nakusp. Both projects are funded through the Connecting British Columbia intake announced in 2018, and are administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“Residents have told us that increasing high-speed internet connectivity throughout the region is important to them, ” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “Our partnership with the Province and local governments will expand affordable broadband
availability in the Slocan Valley and South Country area. With a new fibre backbone in place, local internet service providers can greatly improve service to more residents in both areas.”

The Slocan Valley project will see CBBC install 125 kilometres of fibre-optic infrastructure to service the region between Shoreholme, just north of Nakusp, and the Playmor Junction, at an estimated total cost of $7.2 million. Communities benefiting from this work include Appledale, Brouse, Crescent Valley, Hills, Lebahdo, Lemon Creek, Nakusp, New Denver, Passmore, Perrys, Playmor Junction, Rosebery, Shoreholme, Silverton, Slocan, Slocan Park, South Slocan, Summit Lake, Vallican and Winlaw.

The South Country project involves more than 50 kilometres of fibre-optic infrastructure installed between Jaffray and Roosville at an estimated total cost of $2.9 million. This project will help improve services for people in Tobacco Plains, Baynes Lake, Grasmere, Jaffray, Kragmont and Roosville.

Read the full release.

Selkirk College coolest campus in BC

Coolest Campus in BC? Selkirk College!

Selkirk College coolest campus in BC

Selkirk College has triumphed over some big post-secondary players to claim bragging rights in the BC Cool Campus Challenge.

There are any number of reasons that Selkirk College could be considered cool: their commitment to supporting and expanding regional technology training; their integral and continuing participation and support of the local MIT certified fabrication lab and makers space; as well as the initiatives and educational opportunities that help develop curiosity, ingenuity, and innovation in the region’s young people; just to name a few!

The campus can now add climate action to its ever-growing list of accomplishments.

The students and staff of Selkirk College pledged to take such substantial steps towards climate action that they can now claim the title: Coolest Campus in BC! Throughout the winter our local college embraced the challenge to take personal steps towards lowering energy use setting them above the other participating institutions as a leader in sustainability efforts.

To demonstrate climate leadership by reducing natural gas use in January and February, Selkirk joined the University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology in a unique climate action pact: turn down the heat, take shorter showers, wash laundry on cold, and add necessary layers – wear a sweater!

selkirk college sustainability cool campus challenge

Selkirk College students and staff made pledges and took important steps in climate action during January and February. The efforts have resulted in the college taking the title in the BC Cool Campus Challenge.

Once all pledges by students and staff were tallied, Selkirk College was at the top of the heap as the school making the biggest proportional impact in the challenge and was able to claim the title of the coolest campus in BC.

“The BC Cool Campus Challenge was an excellent way for post-secondary institutions to work together on energy conservation initiatives,” says Selkirk College Sustainability Coordinator Laura Nessman. “A bit of friendly competition was a helpful motivator for students and staff to participate in this campaign.”

Collaboration to beat the cold!

That February this year was a particularly chilly one makes the accomplishment that much more sweet. Given the more severe cold, students and staff engaged in outreach events and hosted Sweater Days that encouraged the Selkirk College community to focus on even the small, yet significant, steps individuals can take to reduce their energy use. Thanks to the vital support of Fortis BC, the community responded with enthusiasm.

“Climate action requires a great deal of collaboration between different organizations, sectors, communities and regions,” says Nessman. “This challenge is an example of the effectiveness of collective efforts.”

In addition to bragging rights, the other participating post-secondary institutions are sending a warm clothing item from their school for Selkirk College to donate to a local charity.

Learn more about sustainability initiatives at Selkirk College.