Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI)?

The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute, at Selkirk College, is a regional research centre with a mandate to support informed decision-making by Columbia Basin-Boundary communities through the provision of information, applied research and related outreach and extension support.


What does the RDI do?

The RDI conducts and gathers research, provides analysis of that research and shares that information so that Columbia Basin-Boundary communities have access to regionally-appropriate research that can be used to inform planning and decision making related to rural development.

Our strategic priorities include:

  1. Build, consolidate, and identify gaps in knowledge on the region
  2. Undertake applied rural development-focused research
  3. Support access to, and application of, RDI research and tools
  4. Support meaningful applied research collaboration amongst educational institutions and Columbia Basin Trust

What is ‘rural development’?

The RDI defines rural development as “the process of improving the quality of life and economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas”.

While, historically, studies on rural development focused primarily on socio-economic issues, many researchers have now embraced the notion that the factors influencing our well-being are much more diverse. The RDI’s research areas (pictured below) reflect this broad understanding of rural development and well-being.


The RDI’s research involves the economic, social, cultural, and environmental pillars of well-being.


Who does the RDI do research for?

We target our research and knowledge mobilization activities to the needs of local governments, non-profit organizations, and community initiatives that share our focus on rural development. We often seek research partnerships with organizations that address priority issues at the regional scale.

The RDI itself does not do research for individual businesses. However, our research partners often include economic development organizations that represent businesses operating within their service area (e.g., Chambers of Commerce). In addition, the RDI can facilitate access to research opportunities offered by students and faculty at Selkirk College, some of which are offered to businesses.

The RDI’s service area (pictured below) includes the regional districts of Kootenay Boundary, Central Kootenay, and East Kootenay, as well as the Village of Valemount and portions of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.


The Columbia Basin-Boundary region stretches from the Kettle Valley in the west, to Sparwood in the east, to Valemount in the north.

How is the RDI governed and funded?

The RDI is jointly governed by Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust. In addition, the RDI receives guidance from an advisory committee with representatives from organizations working in rural development across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region.

The RDI is funded through a partnership between Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust. Columbia Basin Trust provides base funding for the institute, while Selkirk College provides organizational infrastructure and the services of the Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development, who serves as the lead researcher for the RDI. The RDI is also able to access project-specific funding from granting organizations serving BC and Canada.

What is the Regional Innovation Chair or RIC?

The Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development (RIC) was established in 2006 to conduct a program of research in rural economic development.  The position is supported through an endowment established under the BC Leading Edge Endowment Fund, which included matching funding from non-government sources primarily from within the Columbia Basin-Boundary region.

 The work of Selkirk College’s Regional Innovation Chair (RIC) is part of the institute.  The institute’s strategic plan includes theRIC goals.   The RIC Chair serves as the Institute’s inaugural senior officer.  Aside from managing staff and directing the research agenda and activities of the institute, the RIC maintains a focus on rural economic development, including:
  • active participation in regional, provincial and national economic development networks and research partnerships,
  •  promotion of and applied research related to economic development best practices through research and knowledge mobilization activities (i.e. presentations, Knowledge Briefs, Knowledge videos), and
  •  support to regional partnerships that engage in workforce development and economic diversification activities, including provision of college applied research support to companies.

How can I access RDI research?

The RDI website is a hub for RDI research. It provides access to regional information products produced by the RDI or by other researchers in the region. To view research and export data visit the State of the Basin pages which provide access to current economic, social, cultural and environmental datasets as well as the Resource Database for additional regional and community level data.

Can the RDI provide financial support for my project?

The RDI is not a granting organization and does not provide funding for research projects.

Can the RDI assist with community-level research?

The RDI focusses its own research on regional priorities and therefore does not engage in projects that are specific to one community.

However, the RDI can support your community-level project in a number of ways, including:

  • providing access to data or other forms of research that are relevant to your project (check the Digital Basin and the Resources Database before submitting a Request for Support),
  • advising on the structure of your research project (submit a Request for Support to get the process started), or
  • connecting your community or organization with others in the region that are involved with similar projects.


How does the RDI help communities?

The RDI’s work helps inform social, cultural, environmental and economic planning through ongoing analysis of related trends and innovations. The RDI addresses identified research priorities through ongoing research, presentations, and related training. As well the RDI connects communities to global, leading-edge research focused on regional rural revitalization.