A tree planter at the Waterside Ventures’ planting location. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

Tree planters to continue using COVID caution

Planters determined to support local economy

The tree planting season will start this year post-Spring and the tree planters in Burns Lake are planning to continue following the COVID precautions they took last year.

This year, roughly 300 million trees are to be planted all across the province.

Shaemus Hughes of Waterside Ventures told Lakes District News that Waterside Ventures will be planting roughly 3 million this spring. However, the COVID restrictions will continue to remain in place.

Just like last year, the company will require each planter to self isolate for 14 days prior to the season start. During that time they will be required to keep a temperature log twice a day. The company will also need a detailed travel itinerary from each planter. Each planter will be required to provide proof of both temperature log and travel itinerary and go through a screening process before they are taken directly to camp. No stops will be permitted on their way to camp.

Hybrid 17, another company that plants trees in the area, will be planting roughly 6.5 million trees during the upcoming season, starting May 5, provided the snow melts.

Lasse Lutick of Hybrid 17 also said that the company would be following all the COVID precautions.

“We will be following similar protocols to last year until case numbers go down significantly. Last year B.C. saw 5,000 planters work an entire season with zero cases of COVID and our goal is the same this year,” he said.

With vaccine availability opened up to all age groups in smaller communities and vaccinations made possible for frontline workers as well as those staying and working in camps, Lutick said that the company will follow the protocols set by the province on vaccination.

Hughes also said that things were in motion for increased safety for planters and the communities they were going into.

“The industry has made a request to provide advanced access to vaccines for workers in remote worksites and congregate living situations. We have also encouraged our planters to be informed of local vaccine availability and to get the vaccination if possible,” said Hughes.

He also said that as of now the company plans to continue its policies surrounding how they would allow planters to use local businesses.

“Most likely there will be just a few people coming into town to pick up groceries and supplies on days off. This could change further on in the season depending on provincial health guidelines,” he said.

Lutick’s company has a similar plan with the planters staying in an isolated camp for the first couple weeks of the season to ensure that they are COVID free. After this, the company would take decisions based on the then-provincial orders.

“Last year, even with COVID, we spent over $400,000 in the local community. We also raised approximately $3,800 for the food bank in Burns Lake when all the planters and Hybrid 17 donated a portion of a days work. We made sure that all the things planters bought locally were still purchased locally by our town runner. Because we know that restaurants in particular get a lot of business from us, we approached restaurants in Burns Lake for bulk purchase of pastries and treats, and had our camp catered by local restaurants on some days off. We even purchased much of our day-off beer from a local brewery!” said Luttick.

Luttick believes a new provincial health order for the tree planters would soon be revealed.

“Either way, we will keep purchasing locally,” he said.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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