In Fort St. John, Site C has already made a difference
As a city councillor, realtor, and business owner, Trevor Bolin wears many hats in Fort St. John. No matter which one he puts on, he sees the positive impact Site C is having on his hometown.
“That 2,400 to 2,500 jobs in a community the size of Fort St. John makes a huge difference,” says Bolin. “Those people have full-time jobs, and they’re staying here on their days off, becoming part of the community.”
Bolin, who owns the local RE/MAX, an Esso, and a Burger King, says his businesses have each seen increased traffic since construction began. In a region that traditionally depends on the natural resource sector, when commodity prices are down, it can mean hard times. Site C has literally been a lifeline for many local families.
“I’ve seen so many people I know talking about how they transitioned from one industry to another, taking a job at Site C,” says Bolin. “When you look at communities in places like Alberta facing the same challenges, but without a project like Site C, they’re really struggling.”
The numbers tell the same story. According to Statistics Canada, Northeast BC had an unemployment rate of 6.5 per cent in March. Just one year earlier, it was almost 10 per cent. Besides the direct jobs, a project the size of Site C has an enormous impact – more than $30 million in goods and services have been purchased from businesses in the Peace River Regional District.
With so much at stake for himself and his community, Bolin has paid close attention to the three major provincial parties, and isn’t impressed with what he’s seen and heard from the BC NDP and BC Greens.
“We have the right to be nervous,” says Bolin. “The NDP and Greens aren’t supporting anything in the north at all – they don’t seem to understand or appreciate the work done up here so that people elsewhere in the province can heat their homes and drive their cars.”
Bolin, whose grandparents arrived in Fort St. John in 1929, has deep roots in the area. While Fort St. John has had its ups and downs, he believes Site C has a crucial role to play in the regions future.
“At the end of the day – it’s about families. And that’s who Site C is helping most.”
The provincial election will be held on May 9th, with advance polls open on April 29 and 30, and May 3, 4, 5, and 6.