The District of Clearwater (DOC) has received $100,000 from B.C.’s Community Support Grants Program (CSGP) to help with transition services and supports to Vavenby mill workers and their families after the facility’s permanent closure last year.
Mayor Merlin Blackwell said much of the money will be transferred to Yellowhead Community Services (YCS) to be used for expansion in some of its counseling services, youth supports, financial education and planning as well as other areas like recreational and wellness programs and a subsidy program for daycare and preschool.
“There will be a daycare and preschool study program until the end of summer, through Yellowhead, which covers daycare costs if (former mill workers) need to get out chasing jobs or whatever else,” said Blackwell.
“There’ll be some relationship counseling offered as well, and there’s going to be some work in the schools with kids who are affected by this, obviously if life at home is rough.”
The programs funded by the CGSP started opening up as of Dec. 19, 2019.
Blackwell added it’s fortunate the DOC has a group like YCS because it’s a non-profit organization and already offers many of the required services; the only thing it lacked was the funds to expand the needed programs for the former mill workers.
The DOC asked if YCS could expand capacity in certain areas for a year or so if the money was provided and after looking at the criteria, the group went to work on tailoring programs for those in need.
“They have the staff already there, the building, the resources, the programs, and they said ‘Yes, this is where we can fit it to make it work and make sense,’” Blackwell said.
In a recent press release Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said the CSGP was created because the challenges facing Interior forest communities are unprecedented and 10 other Interior communities will also receive help from the program.
Other communities with permanent mill closures include Clinton, Quesnel, and Kelowna, each of which will receive $100,000, with Fort St. James, Fort St. John, Mackenzie, 100 Mile House and Regional District of East Kootenay Area B (Jaffray) each receiving $75,000 as the mill closures in those communities are indefinite.
The Regional District of Fraser Fort George Area C (Isle Pierre) and Merritt are each receiving $50,000 for permanent shift reductions at their community mills.
“Funds from these community support grants are going directly to the local governments, as they have first-hand knowledge of what supports are most needed in their communities,” Donaldson said.