Fort St. James has declared a state of local financial crisis as of 8 pm on July 16.
The declaration states that the financial crisis has been caused due to the closure of a sawmill. This crisis is affecting the daily lives, financial well being and security of those impacted, as per the release.
The financial crisis will remain in force for 30 days until midnight of August 15, 2019 unless otherwise cancelled by the Mayor of Fort St. James Bev Playfair.
The document declaring the state of crisis further read, “It is further ordered that the District of Fort St. James, its employees, servants and agents are empowered to do all the acts and implement all the procedures under the jurisdiction of the District of Fort St. James that are considered necessary to prevent or alleviate the effects of the local crisis.”
The District has listed the following as resources for people affected by the financial crisis: banking institutions, the Conifex Employee Family Assistance Program – Homewood Health, Stuart Lake Outreach Group Food Bank, Tax Deferral program at the District office, WorkBC in Fort St. James, Northern Health for Mental Health Services, Employment Insurance Canada and a Job Fair that will be run on July 31 at Kwah Hall from 10:30 am until 2 pm.
The job fair will be to help sawmill workers transition to new employment and link workers to support service they need during the time, as per the release.
Mayor Bev Playfair of Fort St. James said, “the best thing we want is Hampton to come to town and build a new facility and put most of the workers back to work.”
She said in the past week, the municipality set up a community transitioning meeting and got major players to discuss the issues facing workers and to come up with a way to help them transition. These stakeholders included – Northern Health, Chief Alexander McKinnon of Nak’azdli Whut’en, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Union, Steelworkers, Hampton, Conifex, Service Canada, Forestry, Chamber of Commerce
“We want the government to hear us loud and clear and pay attention to our community. This didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago, this all started with an announcement from Conifex on Nov. 30 and then we have been curtailing ever since then. We have employees at Conifex that will be running out of unemployment insurance shortly. So that is why we have decided at the District that we will move fast and get these workers jobs. The last thing we want is them moving out of the community,” Playfair added.