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New community currency — what will it look like?

In what amounts to, literally, a license to print money, a group of local economy advocates are about to launch a regional currency that will be in circulation throughout the Columbia Basin early next year.

It’s true: as early as next February, Columbia Community Dollars will be tradable online and in circulation as paper money in an initial six communities: Kimberley, Fernie, Cranbrook, Rossland, Valemount and Nelson. Other communities in the Columbia Basin are most welcome to participate.

But what will this new money look like — and how will it work?

A design contest, open to the public, will answer the first question, and a trip to the group’s website,, will answer the second.

“We are looking for two designs for each community,” said Tara Penner, with the Columbia Community Dollars Group. The group is made up of a number of smaller groups throughout the Columbia Basin.

“We’re holding a competition to design a new regional currency for the Columbia bio-region.” 

The currency will be called Columbia Community Dollars — CC$, for short. It will be printed complete with security features that will make counterfeiting nearly impossible.

“Artists can submit original art work, including etchings, drawings, paintings or photos which would be appropriately used as an image on the new currency,” Penner said.

“Each bill will show a photo, which should be an iconic shot of some distinguishing landmark of the community on one side, and an original art work depicting the community in a joyful, resilient and sustainable future on the other. 

“A prize will be awarded for best photo and best art image for each community bill.”

Prize money: first place is two prizes of $200 for each community payable in ½ CAD and ½ CC$.

The communities involved (and the bills they are being asked to design) in the contest are:  Valemount (CC $1); Kimberley (CC $2); Nelson (CC $5); Cranbrook (CC $10); Fernie (CC $20); and Rossland (CC $50).

Only artists from the community designated to design a particular bill may submit entries for that bill. For example, only an artist living in or around the Town of Valemount may submit a design or photo for the CC $1. 

However, continuing with this example, multiple entries for the design of a CC$1 may be submitted by the same artist.

The contest is open to all ages.

Deadline for entries: Friday, Dec. 31 by 5 p.m. (PST).

Application forms and contact information for each community can be found at