Through effective collaboration and the strong commitment of all parties involved, the recovery of Burns Lake is well underway.
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and ministry staff, local MLA John Rustad, the mayor and council for the Village of Burns Lake, Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, First Nations chiefs, union leaders and industry representatives are working tirelessly to help the community recover as quickly as possible.
Immediately following the events of Jan. 20, 2012, the Province established a cross-ministry leadership group that is co-ordinating the provincial government's response and recovery efforts, and working directly with the Village of Burns Lake on a Community Transition plan.
The Burns Lake Recovery Response will assist in managing the village's transition to recovery. This includes collaborative work in planning and advancing economic development and mill rebuild opportunities, assisting workers towards re-training and re-employment, and ensuring critical community services are maintained.
Four core teams have been developed to carry out the response in the areas of Timber Supply, Worker Transition, Economic Development, and Community and First Nations Services.
Each team consists of a variety of individuals and organizations including First Nations, local government, education providers, various provincial and federal ministries, Worksafe BC, forestry sector representatives, economic development organizations, local business organizations, the Northern Development Initiative Trust, employment services providers, health and counselling support providers, and members of the Burns Lake Tragedy Fund Society.
On Monday, March 26, 2012, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Tweedsmuir Rod and Gun Club in Burns Lake, all residents of the Lakes District are invited to attend an Economic Development Town Hall Meeting hosted by the Province, along with the Village o f Burns Lake, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, and Northern Development.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell -
"I cannot say enough how pleased I am with the contributions made by everyone to get this town up and running again. Our goal here is very clear - we want the people of Burns Lake to have long-term jobs that help them support their families."
Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad -
"Moving forward, we must continue to do everything we can to get these people back to work. I am proud of the work that has been done, but I also know that it is just the beginning."
Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold -
"We are pleased that all levels of government have come together to respond to the needs of Burns Lake and to move our community forward together. All of the funding announcements made by MLA Rustad are great news for the community of Burns Lake and we look forward to future announcements and projects that we can collaborate on together."
Bulkely-Nechako Regional District chair Bill Miller -
"The response from every level of government has been extremely encouraging. It gives me hope in the future of our community and I'm confident that we can start putting this tragedy behind us."
Village of Burns Lake: www.burnslake.ca
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako: www.rdbn.bc.ca
Economic Development Association of B.C.: www.edabc.com
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
Results for Burns Lake
The following are the results of the co-ordinated response to the Burns Lake tragedy:
- The Province hosted a jobs fair in Burns Lake that was attended by approximately 400 people. Twenty-five companies were offering more than 1,300 jobs.
- Approximately 130 people from the Babine Forest Products mill are back working at a variety of locations.
- The Province is investing $14.3 million in 14 different highway infrastructure improvements in the Nechako Lakes region, to improve safety for local residents and commercial drivers. The majority of the projects will begin to go to tender this month, with work scheduled to be completed by fall 2012.
- Highway of Tears - Prevention and Awareness - $250,000
- Carrier Sekani Family Services will undertake a project to raise awareness and build capacity to address community safety and prevent violence against women along the Highway of Tears.
- Walk Tall $210,000
- This program will entail gender specific programming, intensive case management for high risk youth, recreational and cultural activities and mentorship programming.
- Stearns Creek Canyon Trail - $144,203
- This project will maximize the use of the Boer Mountain trail system by constructing a multi-use cross country trail that can be accessed by residents and tourists for biking, hiking, walking, skiing and snowboarding.
- Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club Snowcat and Warming Hut - $102,342
- The current track-setter is aging and in need of frequent repair; as it is integral to ski club operations, the new Snowcat and warming hut will enhance the experience of all club participants.
- Peter Harrison from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation is working with the village and associated First Nations to refresh the area's tourism strategy.
- Ray Schultz, a retired Ministry of Forests employee, is working on fibre supply analysis.
- The Economic Development Association of BC and a team of experts are working with the community to establish an economic development strategy for the short term.
- The Province hosted the Village of Burns Lake at a brownfield site redevelopment forum.
- The Province and partners continue to provide a range of supports to help those impacted by the fire. For instance, the local college is helping with counselling and support services, as is the local school district. The Ministry of Children and Family is providing additional child-care supports.
- The Ministry of Social Development is expediting services as well. Staff are present to help with Employment Insurance application forms, and they are working with local companies to help find jobs for those impacted by the fire.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation