Several Houston companies joined the two dozen employers who set up booths at a Burns Lake jobs fair last Friday.
Canfor, Houston Forest Products, Huckleberry Mine, Arrow Mining Services and others all had people out to meet the estimated 400 job seekers who came through the door.
Organized by the Village of Burns Lake and funded by the province, the jobs fair comes on the heels of a Jan. 20 fire that destroyed the Babine Forest Products sawmill, Burns Lake’s largest employer.
Matt Franks, human resources manager at Houston Canfor, said the company is looking to hire 16 millwrights in Houston, fill 10 to 15 entry-level jobs at its Vanderhoof mill and also hire workers for silviculture and field work across the province.
“We are here to show our support for the people of Burns Lake,” Franks said, adding that he had already collected many resumés.
Laurel Hutton, administrative assistant at Huckleberry Mine, said they have four openings at the mine, two for haul truck drivers and two for mill operators.
“We have had a lot of people come and talk to us, mostly people from Babine Forest Products,” she said. “But we have also had a number of people that live in Houston come here to discuss job opportunities and wanting to change careers.”
Coming on behalf of Houston Forest Products and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd, Norma Neil and Janet Martineau said they also met a number of Houston residents at the jobs fair.
Neil said HFP is looking to fill four or five entry-level positions open and four in the trades. Speaking for West Fraser, Martineau said they have three or four trades openings and plenty of entry-level jobs as well.
Rob Krause, forest protection officer for the Nadina forest district, said there are two to four fire crew positions available in Burns Lake and another one open in Houston.
Krause said he has received lots of resumés, but added that it is a challenge to fill seasonal positions.
“They would only be working for four months every year and there is also a fitness requirement,” he said. “People have to be very fit.”
Staff from Mount Milligan Mine, which is located 155 km northwest of Prince George, said they will have 320 full-time skilled labour and entry-level openings by the end of 2012.
Fern McKee, a recruiter for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines said the company has 2,600 openings in B.C. and Alberta.
“We have a gas plant project in Fort Nelson that has fly-in, fly-out jobs,” McKee said. Enbridge also has wind and solar farms looking for experienced managers, she added.
Those jobs would require people in Burns Lake to move, she said, but the company has plenty of opportunities.
Mayor Luke Strimbold said he is pleased to see the business community take such a strong interest in Burns Lake.
“We have been faced with a tragedy and the community is pulling together to overcome the challenges,” he said. “I think the jobs fair has enlightened people as to how much opportunity there is in the area and enlightened people with the types of careers that are available.”
Pat Bell, B.C.’s job minister, said the Burns Lake recovery task force is moving quickly.
“This effort is a real testament to the commitment by all levels of government and the private sector in and around the Village of Burns Lake to get these folks back to work,” he said.