Listen to the remarkable story of how the Trust grew from a seed of a concept into a community organization with an established presence around the region, with multiple offices, staff members, partners and assets. This book highlights the people in the Basin. The residents who saw the need for the Trust, created the organization and guided the development. Residents, Board members, staff, partners and others opened up to us to describe their personal experiences during extraordinary times. After 25 years, there is much to be proud of, but an even greater future to imagine.
Subscribe to our Audiobook today, Columbia Basin Trust: A Story of People, Power and a Region United.
Each week a new chapter will be released and added to this page.
Introduction & Foreword
Chapter One: River Power
Life in the Columbia Basin changed forever when the Columbia River Treaty was signed in 1964. Designed to prevent flooding and optimize hydropower, the Treaty required Canada to construct three storage dams on the upper Columbia River. The dams created large reservoirs that flooded over 15 communities and displaced 2,300 people. Forests and farmland were destroyed, causing devastating environmental and economic effects. As promises for fair compensation were made and broken, Basin residents were left to grapple with these effects, while looking to the future for an opportunity to make their grievances heard.
Chapter Two: Creating the Trust
By the 1980s, residents and politicians across the Basin were lobbying the provincial government to address the social, environmental and economic impacts caused by the Columbia River Treaty dams. Recognizing a common cause, several lobbyists united to form the Columbia River Treaty Committee, which represented and advocated for Basin residents’ interests. When British Columbia secured a new agreement for its share of the Treaty’s downstream benefits in 1994, the CRTC entered negotiations for the Columbia Basin Accord, which would see these benefits delivered directly to the Basin in the form of both money and expansion.
Chapter Three: Building for the Future
Columbia Basin Trust’s first three years were a blur of activity. It hosted a series of public meetings and symposiums where residents shared ideas on how the Trust should operate and invest its money for the benefit of the Basin. Guided by this feedback, the Trust developed a management plan and began to build relationships that would help it deliver benefits to the region. Working with its partner, Columbia Power Corporation, the Trust also started work on Arrow Lakes Generating Station and acquired the rights to Brilliant Dam, an investment that would generate revenue for future delivery of benefits.
Chapter Four: Learning Curves
Between 1999 and 2005, the Trust significantly expanded its delivery of benefits, introducing programs relating to youth, water management, literacy and more. It also expanded its investment portfolio through partnerships with Basin businesses. However, the Trust was experiencing several growing pains, particularly regarding its hydropower investments. Tension with Columbia Power Corporation and anxiety surrounding government control led the Trust to consider selling off its hydro assets entirely. These issues, though later resolved, upset Basin residents who felt that the Trust had strayed from its mandate.
Chapter Five: Restoring the Trust
As the Trust marked its 10th anniversary, it worked hard to address growing pains and repair its relationship with Basin residents. At the same time, the Trust was looking to the future. With steadily increasing revenues and the capacity to expand its programs and partnerships, the Trust established new plans and priorities to guide its work in the Basin. It also entered an ambitious partnership with Columbia Power Corporation and Fortis Inc. to build a second powerhouse at Waneta Dam—a large and expensive undertaking which, if they pulled it off, would yield significant rewards for the region.
Chapter Six: Charting a Path – Coming June 26