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City seeking $1.7 million grant to train forestry workers of the future

Project would see creation of training school in Quesnel for single grip harvesters and forwarders.
The City of Quesnel is seeking Research and Innovation grant for $1.7 million through the Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction in order to develop a training school in Quesnel for single grip harvesters and forwarders over the next three years. (Observer file photo)

The City of Quesnel is seeking a grant for $1.7 million in order to develop a training school in Quesnel for single grip harvesters and forwarders over the next three years.

The Forestry Initiatives Program, along with project partners the College of New Caledonia, UBC Natural Resources Finland, F.P. Innovations and Forest Liaison Inc., are currently in the process of applying for a Research and Innovation grant through the Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction.

The Quesnel City Council discussed the project during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, June 23. City of Quesnel Forestry Initiatives Manager Erin Robinson noted that the training program could eventually be scaled up and potentially marketed across the globe.

“The proposed research project will identify innovative approaches from in Eastern Canada and Scandinavia to determine a tailored in Quesnel approach,” said Robinson. “The findings from the project will then be scaled up, hopefully to the Provincial level for a how-to on how other training institutions can do this and also offer the training to students from around the province and maybe even the world.”

Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson noted that conversations around the need for individuals trained in machine based selective logging came up during the Forestry Think Tank process and in fact that West Fraser recently had to source a crew from Alberta who had this expertise for a commercial thinning project.

Robinson confirmed that there few contractors in the region that are able to offer these specific services and that the demand is growing.

“We have a few local contractors, local being Prince George and Williams Lake and there is one person here in Quesnel that moved from Hinton but yes there is a demand and there is not enough people to fill that demand at this time,” said Robinson.

READ MORE: ‘Treed in perpetuity’: one local property owner advocates a different way to log

Mayor Simpson said that he feels that the training will be popular with younger generations as well since the process involves using a more thoughtful approach and being selective with tree removal rather then clearcutting an area.

“The West Fraser Chief Forrester was talking to us about this during our think tank process, you start to blend a forest technician mindset with a machine operator capability with these funky machines,” said Simpson. “They are actually attractive to a younger generation, that combination of they’re not just going out to a block and basically creating a moonscape by full clearcut logging and dumping it on the roadside – they are actually making interactive forest management decisions.”

Mayor Simpson also believes that the ability to offer the training program in Quesnel could potentially attract individuals from across the country as the demand for individuals trained in all aspects of selective logging grows in the forestry industry.

“Positioning ourself on the lead for this as a community fits in with our economic development strategy too, if we can be the lead and if we can become a centre of excellence for this then we may become a regional hub or you know the northern part of the province hub depending on how much we can scale this up and so the college is very much on board, our licensees are on board — we are really positioning ourself on the forefront of where this training regime has to go,” said Simpson.

READ MORE: City of Quesnel hosting open house at new Forestry Innovation Centre

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