Kettle Valley Rail Trail winds through the Okanagan and Similkameen on railbed left from B.C.’s historical silver-mining boom. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Kettle Valley Rail Trail winds through the Okanagan and Similkameen on railbed left from B.C.’s historical silver-mining boom. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. forest job program gets COVID-19 aid, expands to coast

Short-term work on trails, bridges, forest firebreaks

The B.C. government has used $12 million of its $10 billion COVID-19 relief fund to expand a forest job program that was first set up to retain people in communities where their sawmill closed down after the pine beetle epidemic.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says the renewed program can expand to the coastal region, with a total of 180 land-based projects such as caribou habitat restoration, firebreaks around communities, recreational trail and bridge repairs.

There is no shortage of repair work after two record-breaking forest fire seasons, as well as the flooding, landslides and falling trees that occur every year across the province.

Karla Kozakevich, chair of Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said the district has $450,000 to tackle underfunded maintenance on its 230 km of Kettle Valley Rail Trail system that links Summerland, Penticton, Peachland and Kelowna. Work includes bridge repairs in Tulameen, direction signs, repairs of landslides and erosion, brushing, removal of invasive plants and “danger trees,” installation of picnic tables, a pit toilet and rock scaling at Little Tunnel in Naramata.

“During the pandemic this past year we have seen a huge increase in the number of folks who want to get outside and recreate and make use of our beautiful regional trail system,” Kozakevich said.

The coastal expansion covers removal and cleanup of seven landslides on a Haida Gwaii forest road, as well as danger tree and forest health work at recreation sites near Port Alberni, Youbou, Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Powell River and Sechelt.

Wildfire and flood repairs are also planned for sites and trails near Barriere, Chase, Logan Lake, Kamloops and Sun Peaks.

Chief Sharleen Gale of the Fort Nelson First Nation said the program allows the community to carry on boreal caribou habitat restoration work, and logging to create firebreaks around the community.

It also provides logging training to a region that lost its forest industry more than 10 years ago, but has a joint venture through Eh Cho Dene Enterprises to supply a wood pellet plant, with increasing demand for biomass fuels in Asia and Europe.

RELATED: Uncertain future for communities as B.C. sawmills close

RELATED: Wood pellet contract extended with Japan’s Mitsubishi


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
District of Kent council: Agassiz vaccine clinics successful

About 700 people vaccinated in two clinics, district officials say

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

web
Fire breaks out inside Mission Walmart

Customers, staff evacuated as firefighters investigate

For three of the past four weeks, COVID-19 cases have been well below 10. There have been more than 100 cases of COVID-19 in the first few months of 2021. (Graphic/Adam Louis)
Agassiz-Harrison COVID cases dip down to single digits again

Vaccine clinics have delivered hundreds of doses in first few weeks

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Most Read