Mayor in northeast B.C. weighs in on Kitimat’s work camp issues

Bill Streeper speaks on the issue of work camps and how they fit in to his vision in Fort Nelson.

The mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has seen first hand the effects of work camps in a community.

So when asked for his thoughts in regards to the proposals facing Kitimat, he warns the benefits are unlikely to materialize for local businesses.

The Sentinel sought Bill Streeper out after a resident at last week’s work camp town hall meeting recalled hearing a set of speakers from a few years back, which included Streeper. She said Streeper, talking of development and expansion, told the attendees that his community absolutely did not let large work camps into Fort Nelson.

Streeper confirms that is his perspective.

“The value for the community out of this [local camps] compared to the deficit to the community was vast. They carried no value,” he said.

He spoke primarily of industry-created work camps rather than worker accommodation companies such as PTI Group.

“When camps of this size are too close to the community they carry too many social problems,” he continued.

He used the example of a large group of men all deciding to go to the bar at once to have beers, with the potential for things like fights to break out.

But is there benefit to the community beyond liquor establishments? Not from temporary workers, he says.

“You get a lot of the retailers say ‘no, we want the business.’ Well, there is no business. They’re not going to town shopping, they’re not buying a gift for their wife or girlfriend back home,” he said.

He said his community has accepted smaller scale accommodations for local companies who need a place to house their workers when no other place is available. But with local companies it’s easier to deal with them if there are issues, and their accommodations don’t run higher than about 50 typically.

So what’s the solution? Focus on the permanent workers.

“You’ve got to start working to make sure you’ve got housing, subdivisions they [permanent workers] can go in,” he said.

The money for a community is not made from temporary workers, he said, but from the people who will stick around for a project’s operations.

“If you end up, for example, getting 50 people…you’re going to need another 150 just to service them guys,” he said.

“You want to start hitting the ground with them and say ‘no, we won’t allow your camps in the community because we don’t want you flying the permanent people in and out of here.”

As far as the community goes, it needs to know upfront how many people will be needed to run a facility like an LNG plant, how many support workers they expect (tug boats, for instance), and if the company has a plan to house these people, and what that plan is.

Once a town can get a handle on what to do with permanent workers, then it will see the benefits, he said.

The Sentinel is seeking out comment from PTI Group about their experiences operating within communities as well, however we could not reach them by our press deadline.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Coast Mountains School District runs mobile trades program

Trades van travels to Terrace, Kitimat, Hazelton, Stewart and beyond to bring projects to kids

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Second World War prompts airport construction

And now it’s the busiest airport in the region

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north coast First Nations

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Rainbow crosswalk in B.C. defaced 10 days after installation

Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk has been defaced sometime over the weekend

Closing arguments expected in trial for twice convicted Canadian killer

Crown, defence expected to give closing arguments in Millard murder trial

Pigs crash yoga class in B.C.

First it was goats, now it’s pigs — you can get downward dog with the whole farm in Aldergrove

Canadians undertake the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission

A dozen Canadian peacekeepers arrive in Mali as yearlong mission begins

U.S. justices won’t hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

The case is regarding whether business owners can refuse on religious grounds to comply with anti-discrimination laws

Kangaroo stops play during Australian soccer match

The women’s game stopped play for more than 30 minutes on Monday due to the kangaroo

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Most Read