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Columbia Basin Trust: A Story of People, Power and a Region United

Columbia Basin Trust: A Story of People, Power and a Region United

By Columbia Basin Trust
Half a century ago, the lives of people in the Columbia Basin changed forever when a series of dams altered their homes and landscapes. This is the story of how people took their power back. By raising their voices, facing challenges and putting in years of hard work, the region's residents created Columbia Basin Trust. Since 1995, they have supported this exceptional resource as it, in turn, has supported them. Learn how Basin residents and the Trust have travelled this unprecedented path together, bringing life to dreams and helping the region flourish.

Audiobook narration by Sarah Orton.
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June 30, 2021
Chapter Six: Charting a Path
By the 2010s, the Trust’s role in the Basin had grown far beyond what its founders originally envisioned. In addition to providing the region with financial benefits, the Trust had become a facilitator, collaborator, creator and problem-solver. It took on new challenges, such as establishing a regional broadband network. In 2015, the Trust led a public engagement process called Our Trust, Our Future to establish future priorities, and strategies to achieve them. The Trust and Basin residents continued to lay a solid foundation for the future and together strive towards social, environmental and economic well-being.
June 22, 2021
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.
June 15, 2021
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.
June 08, 2021
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.
June 01, 2021
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.
May 26, 2021
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.
May 19, 2021
Introduction & Foreword
In 2020, the Trust created a commemorative history book to mark our 25th anniver­sary. Listen to the introduction and foreword, and soon you will be able to download each of the six chapters that share the story of people, power and a region united. 
May 13, 2021