Letters to the Editor for June 21

Letters to the Editor from the June 21 issue of The Free Press.

Letter to the Editor re: B.C. workers left out in the cold

The Site C project is crewing up and drawing 35 per cent of its workforce from outside of B.C.

A freedom of information (Fol) request made by the BC Building Trades (BCBT) in December finally returned a response from BC Hydro this spring. In response, BC Hydro confirmed only 65 per cent of the 482 construction workers on the Site C project in November were from B.C.

The Fol followed claims from Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett to the Vancouver Sun in December that 75 per cent of the workers were from B.C. which begs the question, exactly which labour supply figures was the minister referencing if the last recorded month according to BC Hydro were 10 per cent lower.

Did the minister have bad data or was this another arbitrary number like the $3 billion in extra costs he suggested a unionized B.C. workforce would add to the project?

These early construction composition figures prove the public’s concern that B.C. workers are not being given the priority they deserve on this project.

Over 5,000 people attended the job fairs in northern B.C. hoping for work. Perhaps they should have applied at the Petrowest head office in Calgary.

In November, the majority of construction work on the Site C project was tied to ground clearing, excavation, roadwork and camp construction. There is no shortage of British Columbians who have the skills and qualifications to perform the early work on this project. If contractors are already drawing 35 per cent of the workforce from out of province at this stage in the project, who knows what will happen as the project moves forward.

The BC Building Trades also requested information on the number of apprentices on the Site C project. We learned that only 26 apprentices worked on the project out of a total workforce of 482 in November 2015. That’s five per cent of the workforce and well below the government’s stated goal of 25 per cent on public projects.

We have been concerned for well over a year about BC Hydro’s management of the construction workforce at Site C. It’s an important project for the future of the province and one we support, but the approach BC Hydro is taking risks its on-time, on-budget construction. The results of our Fol request confirm the concerns of the public and the BCBT that there is a lack of commitment to hiring British Columbians and a disregard for the government’s own goal of the number of apprentices who should be working on taxpayer-funded projects.

Written by Tom Sigurdson

Submitted by Bob Irwin


Letter to the Editor re: Joe Sawchuck’s pit bull solution

Joe, I am appalled by your narrow-mindedness regarding pit bulls. Your thoughts that all pit bulls should be muzzled in public is discriminatory to say the least. Do you think certain people should be handcuffed when in public because they “look” like they might commit a crime?

The media chooses to over-report when there is a “pit bull” attack but does anyone ever call the media when they’re bit by a retriever or poodle? No; and that’s why society is afraid of pit bulls. Yes, pit bulls are strong dogs but there are other breeds that are just as strong if not stronger. Why not muzzle them too? Why not muzzle the dachshund down the street that chases and bites at kids on their bikes? Because it’s acceptable for other dogs to misbehave, especially small ones. The problem with society in general is that owners are not held accountable, bylaws such as leash laws and licensing are not enforced (in many communities), and unfortunately these strong dogs get into the hands of irresponsible owners more often than a border collie or a lab would. Muzzling dogs based on looks rather than their behaviour is punitive and discriminatory to say the least. If any animal is vicious, aggressive, or has a bite history then absolutely it should be muzzled in public at a minimum, but muzzling innocent dogs based on their looks is not a solution.

Chantal Serwatkewich

Elkford, B.C.


Letter to the Editor re: Help save the bees

Friends of the Earth Canada is calling on residents of Fernie to join the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count and help scientists learn more about these important pollinators. All it takes is a simple snap of a picture of bumble bees you see in your garden, park or campsite and upload to Bumblebeewatch.org.

The Canadian member of Friends of the Earth International, one of the world’s largest grassroots environmental organizations, is partnering with Bumble Bee Watch to deliver the first ever Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count. Bumble Bee Watch, created by scientists from the Xerces Society, York University and Wildlife Preservation Canada, is an ambitious citizen-science project that asks people to take pictures of bumble bees when they see them, note their location and upload them online, where they will be verified by a team of researchers.  For our Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count, we want to help Bumble Bee Watch researchers by seeing how many bumble bees we can find across Canada from now until August 15!

Bumble bees are effective pollinators for many of the crops we eat and for many of the wildflowers in our fields and forests, but several of their species are dramatically declining. Though there are over 40 confirmed species of bumble bees in Canada, they have little proper monitoring.

Anyone can help keep track of and protect these bees by participating in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count and joining Bumble Bee Watch today.  All you need is a camera and some curiosity to find the bees in your town.

Frances Fyfe

Friends of the Earth Canada