The B.C. government invested $1.87 million in the B.C. Interior through the Forest Employment Program last year, according to a statement released May 13.
Twenty-two projects have been completed through the program, which the province said employed local contractors and workers, focusing on wildfire risk reduction and improving outdoor safety.
The FEP was created in 2o19 in response to a number of indefinite and permanent mill closures in the forest sector across the Interior, and provides short-term employment to workers and contractors affected. The program was later expanded in 2020 throughout the province as part of the province’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Projects completed in the B.C. Interior include: Road maintenance in Wells Gray Provincial Park, on Battle Mountain, Stillwater and Clearwater River roads, to the tune of $97,600; recreation sites and trails improvements in Barriere, Chase, Logan Lake, Kamloops and Sun Peaks, with $160,560 in funding; and bank stabilization on Bone Creek Forest Service Road along the North Thompson River to protect access for residents and industry for $127,800.
“These projects help drive economic recovery in the region, bolster recreation and tourism opportunities, reduce wildfire risks and provide jobs for people,” Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said in a press release.
In the Thompson Okanagan, six FEP projects completed recreation and trail improvements, and another 16 supported safety and accessibility on forest service roads.
Funding for the projects also increased from $15 million over three years, to $30 million, which the province said has supported 317 projects, creating 840 short-term jobs.
The 2022 budget allocated another $185 million over three years to support forestry workers, industry and communities, as well as First Nations affected by restrictions on old-growth logging.