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BC Government: Vital projects help workers impacted by COVID-19

Press Release

March 25, 2021

VICTORIA – Opportunities to work on more than 180 land-based projects are helping people begin their economic recovery from COVID-19, as part of the provincial response plan.

“We’re working hard to support workers and contractors who have been impacted by the pandemic, while also creating more good job opportunities and building stronger communities,” said Premier John Horgan. “These new and immediate jobs are another sign that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Together, we can build an economic recovery that works for everyone.”

B.C. expanded its existing Forest Employment Program (FEP) with an additional $12 million.  This will support more workers and contractors in more communities, enabling them to complete priority land-based projects.

“Forest-dependent communities were especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “This program has created opportunities for workers and contractors to support their families and employees and begin to rebuild, while completing priority land-based projects near rural communities.”

Projects include improving recreation sites and trails, forest service roads, wildlife areas and wildfire safety.

“Our economic recovery plan is creating jobs and providing community support in every region of the province,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This expansion of the Forest Employment Program is going to help more workers in forest-dependent communities, while improving and strengthening B.C.’s forest lands so more people can enjoy them safely.”

This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, which protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.

Quotes:

Chief Sharleen Gale, Fort Nelson First Nation –

“The Fort Nelson First Nation is working hard with local, provincial and federal governments to rebuild the regional economy based on forward-looking sectors, such as geothermal energy, LNG, innovative forestry activities and oil field reclamation. It is important that we balance our economic success with effective land, air and water stewardship efforts. The FEP has allowed us to do just that by providing funds to build local capacity in forestry operations and protect the communities from wildfire, as well as providing the support we need to continue our work in caribou habitat restoration.”

Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –

“Projects funded by the Forest Employment Program are supporting the economic resiliency of rural communities through employment opportunities, as well as providing benefits that meet local needs in areas like wildfire risk reduction, improvements to recreation sites and forest enhancement.”

Karla Kozakevich, chair, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) –

“The RDOS relies on provincial support to ensure trails and amenities continue to be maintained and enhanced across the region.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Forest Employment Program is a three-year, $15-million program created in 2019 to provide short-term work opportunities for contractors and workers in B.C.’s Interior affected by indefinite and permanent closures in the forest sector.
  • As announced, this base funding received a $12-million boost as part of B.C.’s COVID-19 response. The program expanded in 2020-21 to include contractors and workers impacted by COVID-19 and those in Coastal B.C., making the program available throughout the province.
  • Projects are in land-based priority areas, including Indigenous partnership, backcountry safety, ecosystem restoration, fencing and range infrastructure, forestry, recreation upgrades, rural roads and wildfire mitigation.

Learn More:

Stronger BC: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Forest Employment Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/supports-for-forestry-workers/short-term-forest-employment-program

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:

Ministry of Forests, Lands,
Natural Resource Operations
and Rural Development
Media Relations
250 213-8172


BACKGROUNDER

Land-based projects support communities, workers

The Forest Employment Program and its $12-million expansion through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan is funding land-based projects in areas including:

  • forest service roads;
  • wildfire risk reduction;
  • stand management;
  • recreation and trails;
  • range and fencing; and
  • training and implementation.

Completed and ongoing projects under the Stronger BC expansion to the Forest Employment Program include:

  • using local and Indigenous contractors to clear and restore traditionally used trails in Ulkatcho First Nation territory and build First Nation forestry capacity;
  • repairs to Trout Creek Bridge, a key structure on Kettle Valley Rail Trail, near Summerland, Penticton, Peachland and Kelowna within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen;
  • expansion of restoration season to winter for Fort Nelson First Nation Boreal Caribou Protection and Recovery Plan, Kotcho Lake Restoration area in the Snake-Sahtenah Range;
  • rip rap to support replacement of a washed-out bridge on Criss Creek FSR K177, near the Skeetchestn Band;
  • proactive danger tree management and improvement of tree stand health in high-value recreation sites near Port Alberni, Youbou and Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Powell River and Sechelt; and
  • removal and cleanup after seven landslides which blocked access on the Rennell Forest Service Road on Haida Gwaii.

Completed and ongoing projects under the original Forest Employment Program include:

  • wildfire risk reduction through fuel management on the boundary of Mount Pope Provincial Park near Fort St. James that provided opportunities for Indigenous contractors;
  • preparations for a prescribed burn and fuel management to reduce wildfire risk in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, near Princeton and Merritt;
  • creating an airport trail network that encourages people to reduce the risk of wildfires in their own properties in Quesnel;
  • bridge maintenance and repair in the Okanagan Shuswap Natural Resource District, from Salmon Arm to Keremeos;
  • brushing to improve sightlines for safety on the Hurley Forest Service Road, which sees more than 160 vehicle trips a day and connects the community of Gold Bridge with Pemberton; and
  • improvements of recreation sites and trails impacted by wildfire and floods near the communities of Barriere, Chase, Logan Lake, Kamloops and Sun Peaks.

Contact:

Ministry of Forests, Lands,
Natural Resource Operations
and Rural Development
Media Relations
250 213-8172

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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