Dalton Smith, manager for the Cowichan Lake Outdoor Education Centre, says that the Town of Lake Cowichan, on behalf of the centre, has just submitted an application for funding from the Ministry of Social Development’s Employment Program of B.C. Partnership and Innovation Fund.
These funds, if approved, will go towards CLEC’s job creation program, and more specifically to projects such as the construction of public washrooms at Saywell Park, the restoration of the 1918 CNR box car at the Kaatza Station Museum, the construction of a viewing platform at Saywell Park beside the Cowichan River, the construction of a public swimming and observation deck at Saywell Park, and finally the construction of picnic tables at Saywell Park.
The total cost of these initiatives comes to $169,041, which would include a provincial contribution of $57,961, if approved, and $80,000 of cash and in kind contributions from the Town of Lake Cowichan, Youbou Lands, and Catalyst Paper, as well as in kind contributions of $31,080 from the Kaatza Station Museum, Lake Cowichan Public Works, and bookkeeping and project management services provided by the Town of Lake Cowichan and CLEC respectively.
“After all the discussions we’ve had, and all the confirmation and things like that, the grant applications got in, but it’s a fairly quick turnover on this now,” says Smith. “We’ll know by the twentieth of August I think. Our start-up date is September 11.”
Smith adds that if the grant application is not approved, then the projects will not be able to move forward as the town simply does not have the funds to see them through on its own at this time.
CLEC job creation programs not only benefit the Town of Lake Cowichan, says Smith, but they also “assist the unemployed in our community by accessing provincial and federal programs that are designed to provide meaningful and valuable work experience that will lead to sustainable development.”
There will be a total of six employees hired for the project on top of project management and a foreman hired to oversee the physical construction of the projects.
“They (employees) are vetted through either Community Services or Global Vocational Services in Duncan. Their mandate is to provide and to know the inventory of people that need help. So they will give us their advice on a tier system,” explains Smith.
This tier system is a way of assessing people who are eligible for this kind of employment: do they match the criteria and are they suited for the kind of employment being offered?
“Then they come to us, and we have to take a look at these people. For the most part we won’t turn people away except if we think we can put a team of people together that we think is good for them and for us, we’ll try and do that. We get the final say in who we take,” says Smith.
Because the mandate of the project is to help those who are unemployed or in need, they will not bring with them the skills required for such a project. This means that CLEC will be providing on the job training.
“And we’re providing some certificate programs in this. We’ve promised to give them OFA (Occupational First Aid) level 1, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), and on the job training,” says Smith.
Project timelines vary and are approximate to within two to three weeks. The longest one being 14 weeks for the restoration of the 1918 CNR box car at the Kaatza Station Museum.