by EVAN MATTHEWS
The Province is providing a grant to the Village of McBride in the wake of the BKB Cedar Manufacturing mill fire.
On Apr. 7, The Province announced McBride would receive $50,000 via the Rural Dividend Fund under a “Special Circumstance Provision.” The funds are to be used “to support economic diversification and to increase community resiliency in the face of the recent fire at the BKB cedar mill.”
On Apr. 10, MLA for Prince George-Valemount Shirley Bond held a meeting to discuss supports available to affected residents of McBride, as well as next steps.
The meeting, attended by 30 people, was part of the Province’s Community Transition Response, according to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training’s regional manager Myles Bruns.
The Community Transition Response is a provincial program used in special circumstances, according to Bruns.
“We’re already looking at trying to line up training for some folks as early as next week. There is a broad range of help available to people,” – Myles Bruns, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
The program is used in instances like the layoffs in Merritt, the tragedy in Burns Lake or the downturn in the resource sector in Tumbler Ridge, to name a few examples.
Training and education, employment assistance, grant funding programs, economic development programs, career counseling, local job creation, and peer and professional support were discussed at the meeting Apr. 10.
“We’re already looking at trying to line up training for some folks as early as next week,” says Bruns.
“There is a broad range of help available to people,” says Bruns.
Bruns points to a funding program through the Community Futures Fraser Fort George organization, which offers loans to keep small businesses afloat during times of crisis.
“It’s not just the employees from BKB Cedar being affected,” he says. “It’s all of the suppliers BKB would buy from, all of the stores BKB employees would shop at… There is a much bigger impact than the initial fire.”
Meeting attendees brainstormed short-, medium- and long-term actions to help the community recover, according to Bruns, and the Province will share the plans in the coming days.
A “fact sheet” of supports and resources will be made; a printed version will be available at the Village office, McBride’s provincial government office, McBride Public Library, Robson Valley Support Society and local businesses.
Participants at the meeting included the Mayor and Council of the Village of McBride, the Regional District, several government Ministries, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Community Futures, the Valemount Learning Society, and the Support Society. Residents should watch the Village of McBride, Regional District, and Support Society websites for more info.
The Support Society held another worker information meeting on Apr. 13 at 10 AM at the Elk’s Hall for employees of the mill, too.