John Patrick, posing with his students in the newly implemented tricking course offered by BLNDC. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

John Patrick, posing with his students in the newly implemented tricking course offered by BLNDC. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

New trucking course for BLNDC

Involves mandatory entry level training program

A new Class 1 truck driving training program began on Dec. 8 at the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC), which includes the mandatory entry level training (MELT) program.

According to BLNDC Native Liaison Officer John Patrick, the reason behind the program is simply to fill a need in the workforce.

“The reason we started this program is because there is a shortage of professionally trained truck drivers in the province and there will continue to be a shortage of truck drivers in the coming years. While there is a good representation of First Nations in the trucking industry, we know there needs to be more,” said Patrick.

The program was worked on by Patrick, along with BLNDC General Manager Chantal Tom and Chief Financial Officer Edward Clayton to provide funding. It’s being run with the help of the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment & Training Association, along with some of the BLNDC’s partner bands such as Lake Babine Nation, Skin Tyee Nation & Cheslatta Carrier Nation.

The MELT aspect of the course is significant because it’s a newly mandated driver training program which is now attached to the Class 1 training.

“B.C.’s Class 1 MELT course includes practical in-yard training, on-highway driving and theoretical learning components, its focus is on National Safety Code compliance for commercial vehicle safety, hours of service requirements, load securement, and other fundamentals like air brakes and professional on-highway driving skills,” Patrick told Lakes District News.

“The B.C. Class 1 MELT course emphasizes safe operating practices for B.C.’s mountainous geography and diverse climate conditions, and highlights the unique driving conditions that can occur in other jurisdictions.”

He went on to say that the program is groundbreaking, because this is the first time a MELT program is being held anywhere in Northern B.C. since the program was mandated in October.

According to Patrick, in total, the students will spend 200 hours in the program. This will be broken into different sections; 40 hours in learner’s prep, 20 hours on an air brakes course, 40 hours doing classroom theory, 40 hours yard time and 60 hours 1-on-1 Instructor training.

The classroom theory portion is being taught here in town at the BLNDC building, and the yard time and in-truck training will take place in various locations in and around Burns Lake.

“We hope our graduates will become full trained and valuable members of our province’s trucking industry and make our community and membership proud,” said Patrick

Along with this course, BLNDC also offered a 12 weeks heavy equipment training course.

READ MORE: Burns Lake Native Development Corporation secures provincial grant funding

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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