A jobs fair organized by the Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, but sponsored by the province drew crowds of locals last week.
It was held on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in order to help those that lost their jobs due to the Jan. 20, 2012 Babine Forest Products explosion and fire at the sawmill.
More than 24 participant booths including; Canfor, West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., Houston Forest Products, Endako Mines, Thompson Creek Metals for Mount Milligan Mine, Imperial Metals for Huckleberry Mine and Enbridge offered a range of jobs from entry level positions to skilled trades.
Representatives from the companies were on hand to accept resumes and discuss employment opportunities with locals.
Matt Franks, human resources manager at Canfor Houston said to Lakes District News that they have job openings from Canfor’s operations across B.C., but he said they also have jobs available at their Houston and Vanderhoof sawmills, including 16 millwrights in Houston and 10 to 15 entry level positions in Vanderhoof.
“We are here to show our support for the people of Burns Lake,” Franks said, adding that he had collected numerous resumes.
“We are targeting Babine Forest Products workers and many of them have strong resumes and good experience.”
Kevin Brown manager of community relations and Fern McKee, recruiter, for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines said there is 2,600 jobs available at the company in various job titles from everything to specialized trades and technical to administrative positions including accountants.
“We have a gas plant project in Fort Nelson that has fly in, fly out jobs and we have green energy developments including seven wind farms and three solar and wind farms and we are looking for an operations manager with wind and solar experience, said McKee.”
She said that the jobs would require locals to move away, but added that there is plenty of opportunities available at the company in B.C. and Alberta.
McKee said they had also had a number of resumes dropped off.
“I think there should be a jobs fair held every year, it’s a great way for employers to connect with employees,” Brown added.
Rob Krause, forest protection officer from the Nadina forest district has between two and four fire crew positions available in Burns Lake and one position open in Houston.
He said resumes had been dropped off by a number of interested people, but he added that it was more difficult to find employees when the work is seasonal.
“They would only be working for four months every year and there is also a fitness requirement …. people have to be very fit.”
Laurel Hutton, administrative assistant at Huckleberry Mine said they have four positions currently available at the mine, two entry level positions for haul truck drivers and two mill operator positions.
“We have had a lot of people come and talk to us, mostly people from Babine Forest Products, but we have also had a number of people that live in Houston come here to discuss job opportunities and wanting to change careers.”
Norma Neil, from Houston Forest Products and Janet Martineau from West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. also said they had spoken to a number of Houston residents who had attended the jobs fair.
Martineau said they had three to four job openings at West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. for trades. “We always have plenty of entry level positions available as well.”
Neil said Houston Forest Products is currently looking for entry level employees, and said there is currently four to five entry level positions open as well as four trades positions.
Mount Milligan Mine will also have 320 full time positions by the end of this year, including skilled labour and entry level positions.
Mayor Luke Strimbold said he is pleased with the interest that the business community is taking in Burns Lake. “I think the jobs fair has enlightened people as to how much opportunity there is in the area and also with the types of careers that are available. If someone is interested in becoming a mechanic they have been able to see how much opportunity there is out there for them to get a job once they have retrained,” he added.
It is estimated that more than 300 people attended the jobs fair. Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation said, “We are moving quickly, bringing together all levels of government, private companies and First Nations to develop strategies for Burns Lake to recover economically from the Babine Forest Products sawmill tragedy.”
John Rustad, Nechako Lakes MLA said, “The people throughout the Burns Lake region are really showing how devoted they are to rebuilding this community. It’s extremely encouraging to see everyone coming together to rebuild and give people job opportunities and hope in our future.”