Chief Albert Gerow is leading the Burns Lake Band in the possible development of a work-camp trailer construction facility in Burns Lake. The facility would be a complex of administrative offices and very large warehouse allowing for the year-round indoor construction of modular buildings.
The modular buildings would be built according to floor plans designed to suit the needs of the booming camp construction market that goes along with the increased resource and pipeline work slated for Northern B.C. and elsewhere.
“There’s a huge demand for camps in North America and internationally,” said Gerow. “If you were to order a camp today, it would be two years before you could receive shipment of it.”
The Burns Lake Band has hired the Vancouver consulting firm MNP to complete a feasibility study, which Gerow expects will be complete by the end of January, 2012. The band has already met with several companies that purchase modular camp units like this and have found a lot of interest for their floorplans.
“We’ve talked to Shell Canada, Apache Canada, Enbridge, New Gold and others,” said Gerow. “They’ve all come back interested, and Apache has a keen interest internationally.”
It would take 12 to 18 months to complete construction of the facility, and the facility itself would create approximately 100 direct and indirect jobs in Burns Lake.
“We’d situate it on the southside of the tracks beside the Babine Forest Products mill so that we’d have rail access to ship units internationally,” Gerow said. “We’d be making wood structured, insulated panels and we would by our wood from the mill.”
“Our desire it to assist the community with diversifying so that we’re not locked into one industry.”
The floorplans could be modified to meet the needs of First Nations housing as well as to provide residential modular homes. Gerow hopes that a second phase of operation might become available were they are able to provide camp management services.
Gerow said that there are no immediate stumbling blocks in the way other than the usual ones that face any new manufacturing start up.
“Once we have a positive feasibility study, we’ll develop the detailed business plan, bring in the federal and provincial governments and then get pre-orders from industry. Once we have pre-orders we’ll go to our financiers for funding.”
Although big industry is the anticipated market for these manufactured homes, Gerow said that they won’t be looking to big industry for partnership. “We’re looking for local partners,” Gerow said. “Big industry would be customers, not partners.”