With wildfire safety top of mind this summer, participants in two Kootenay work experience projects are sharing wildfire awareness tips and gaining hands-on practice in wildfire prevention and trail building, thanks to more than $135,000 from the provincial Community and Employer Partnership fund.
The provincial government has provided nearly $72,000 for a Jobs Creation Partnership (JCP) with Selkirk College to help four participants in Crawford Bay gain work experience and training in wildfire management and first aid on the east shore of Kootenay Lake. Participants have already hosted a Fire Smart community workshop and will continue to identify and clear wildfire hazards like underbrush through December 2015.
In addition to wildfire awareness and chainsaw training, participants will also learn trail planning skills in partnership with the East Shore Trails and Biking Association. The workers will develop GPS and digital mapping skills to help design a new segment of the TransCanada Trail through Crawford Bay, and collect information for an East Shore Trails Manual to help showcase the community’s walking, biking and cross-country trails.
In the Village of Slocan, four participants are sharpening their carpentry and construction skills as part of an effort to establish destination recreational trails through the region’s western screech owl habitat. This project is receiving more than $63,000 in funding. Since May 2015, participants have laid new chip trails, deconstructed an old wildfire crew camp and will be building a new information kiosk and signs out of the salvaged camp materials later this month. The ‘owl walk’ is expected to open in October 2015 and visitors can learn more about the new trail system on a new website designed by one of the participants at: www.slocanowlwalk.com
These projects are funded through the Community and Employer Partnerships program, which was introduced in April 2012 as part of the Employment Program of BC.
Government is taking action to address the rapidly changing labour market. Government created the B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint to ensure more British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for in-demand jobs in B.C.’s diverse, strong and growing economy.
The Community and Employer Partnerships program is featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides more support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.
To date, more than 800 job seekers have benefited from work experience and nearly 180 projects have been funded throughout the province.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Job Creation Partnership projects provide workers the opportunity for on-the-job training and skills development. Trades training and work experience like this helps workers get ahead in the workforce while also benefiting the community.”
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and MLA for Kootenay East –
“With what we have experienced this summer in the Kootenay and around B.C., wildfire management training is essential for the safety of our communities. Along with trail building, these projects offer great hands-on experience for participants, as well as important community benefits.”
Laverne Booth, community education and workplace training coordinator, Selkirk College –
“The Trails and Fire Safety on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake Job Creation Partnership is a win-win-win scenario. Project participants get training and work experience in trail building and urban wildfire interface work, and our small rural communities get to enhance the trail system and raise awareness about fire safe communities. As a community member, I am grateful for this support from the province to train and employ local people in these areas of community economic development.”
Michael White, project participant –
“It’s really good that we have two First Nations working on this project, being that this is our traditional territory. It’s a big boost for our people and for the people of Crawford Bay. What I have learned here I can take home for our people do this too. It’s an awesome program. Now that I have a few more skills, it has got me thinking that I would like to run a crew in the future.”
Jessica Lunn, mayor of the Village of Slocan –
“As a small village, our capacity to work on special projects like this one is limited. The Job Creation Partnership crew has been doing an excellent job at cleaning up and developing the site, as well as with the development of marketing and information items for the walk. It has definitely been a win-win for all involved.”
Dawn Burling, project participant –
“The Slocan Owl Walk project is one of the most inspiring and fulfilling experiences in my life. Teardown of the site has been a welcome change from the work I’ve done in the past. Returning the land to its natural state is rewarding and learning the skills I have with this project has only inspired me to continue.”
- B.C.’s Wildfire Management Branch typically responds to 2,000 fires each year. As of Aug. 18, 2015, 1,704 fires have been reported since April 1, 2015.
- Homeowners can help make their home Fire Smart by removing shrubs, deadfall and trees from around buildings.
- The southern B.C. portion of the TransCanada trail will be over 1,600 kilometres long as it winds from Victoria to the Alberta border.
- The TransCanada trail is 80% complete and will be completed by July 1, 2017.
- The western screech-owl is listed as a federally and provincially endangered species and nests in natural tree cavities, especially in large mature cottonwood and aspen.
- In 2015-16, the ministry has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of BC.
- The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia as well as the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
- Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the four components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
- Job Creation Partnerships
- Labour Market Partnerships
- Project-Based Labour Market Training
- Research and Innovation
Who is eligible?
- Crown corporations
- Non-profit organizations
- Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
- Bands/tribal councils
- Public health and educational institutions
For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships: www.workbc.ca/CEP
For more information on the Village of Slocan owl walk: www.slocanowlwalk.com
Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca
Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi
For more information on B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
For a photo of participants brushing up on fire safety and trail planning: https://flic.kr/p/xzk7cB