The Fate of Fort St. John, Alberta and Site C Dam (w/ Fort St. John residents)


Conversations that matters a partner program for the center for dialogue is Simon Fraser university The production of this program is made possible. Thanks to the support of the following and yours life you Meet Jamie Hartnell. He’s on his way to work at site. C. Where he’s a carpenter foreman. It’s a job He’s had for more than a year a job that has offered him the stability he was looking for a job He was looking forward to going to for the next six or seven years Six or seven years of steady employment employment. That allowed him to come home at night and spend time with his family we caught up with him on Father’s day a day he cherishes the Challenge this year is the cloud of uncertainty that is hanging over him and his family How much longer will he have a job? The source of that dark cloud is uncertainty over the fate of sight see if it’s paused Then what if it’s canceled then what there’s so many balls up in the air right now. We don’t know Necessarily what’s going to happen with the government? once the government is Official we don’t know what they’re going to do. What could happen with this town? We own house the The value of our home could want there’s just so much in the air right now it’s cruel to do this to these people imagine my job is hanging by a thread based on decisions made by people without a Thousand kilometres away, I’d be upset. I’d be very concerned. I’d be worried I’d be talking to you know my wife and my kids We may have to move you’d be looking for other options, and that’s exactly what Jamie Hartnell and his family are doing The problem is they don’t know what to do if they cancelled um? Short-term I would probably try and make ends meet here until I could sell my house and then Probably end up moving small businesses Contractors and suppliers are all asking the same questions Well, you’re worried for mine, and then if your company owner, you know you’re signing contracts in good Faith But are they ever going to come to fulfillment? You know how do you staff up for that? How do you attract people? You know they’re about to go into a summer season and where they’re actually going to add hundreds more workers How do you attract people to come work for you? If you don’t even know if the project is going on and it ripples out from there there is a lot of caution in the air people might be a little bit more worried about whether They should go ahead should we buy that new pickup truck should we buy a house that’s going to be put on hold and that Cascades down the line to not-for-Profit organizations that benefit from the donations they receive What happens to that support if the project is paused? What happens if it’s cancelled? the answer is The money gets cancelled the same is true of the more than 1 million dollars a year the city of fort St. John receives to fund a range of services including bolstering the RcMp We sat down with Jamie Hartnell who works at Site C Mayor Laurie Ackerman and Jennifer Moore of the hospital foundation for a conversation that matters about not knowing Jamee Hartnell, thank you for inviting us into your home for this conversation that matters You’re very welcome you work at the site see damn site. Is that correct yeah, that’s correct. What do you do there? I’m a carpenter foreman how long you been doing that I’ve been doing it since may of 2016 so a little over a year. Yes good job. I love it. Yeah, what do you like about the job? I like the people the the crews been really good the work is good and I Get to come home every night. Which is pretty why you’ve worked at jobs where you’ve been like in remote locations Then it’s always been very important to me that I’m home every night so well. I’ve spent a day here a day there Away for the most part my entire working career. I’m home every night. Which is good. It’s very important to me Yes, and this is a good job. Is it like the company like the site everything is like? It’s what you would classify as a class a construction job. It is yes, which is pretty good How often do those come along? They don’t come along very often the only in my vote where I’m where I get to be home you oh, okay? I never happen again Really you can’t foresee a job like this coming up again, I? Can’t foresee a job where I can work an industrial construction job Make a good wage and be home every night in for think John wow so as We are sitting right now uncertain about what the future of this job is what does that do for you or to you? Well, it does a lot of things there’s so many balls up in the air right now. We don’t know Necessarily what’s going to happen with the government? once the government is Official we don’t know what they’re going to do like they could pause the job they could cancel the job This town that we live in is very much based on oil and gas what could happen at this town we own house The value of our home could plummet. There’s just so much in the air right now, so when you say uncertainty yes Definitely, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now So what was the job market like when you took this job? Did you take this job over something else I? Had a job that I was working at for about three years It was a fabulous job for a fabulous employer But the work was not very consistent anymore. How come just if things were starting to slow down around fort St.. John? So the economy was slowing the economy was slowing down here. Yes, so along comes this job Yes, I went to the job fair in February I spoke with the the union representatives, and it sounded perfect With the downturn of the economy this might be our saving grace and it absolutely was because I had phoned previous employers who might had good relationships with and There wasn’t a spot for me at any of them is a respond now. I I don’t know yet So so do you find yourself in this place like? Okay Seems, I don’t know what’s the happening do I look for another job Do I move from Fort Saint on like bullying? What are some of the things that you’re having to consider? We’re having to consider everything, but like I say certain things have to happen for that, too To be able to happen right I can’t Just leave my house to move away from fort St.. John for work. I have to either try and rent it out or Try and sell it and with the real estate market coming down can I afford to sell my house? There’s just a lot of questions that need answers is the real estate market Are you seeing it’s often yes, and the housing prices? What’s happening there? Well, I think Maybe a year and a half ago, I probably could have gotten 370 thousand dollars for my house and today. It’s listed at I think we listed 335 holy smokes, and so why have you listed it is it because you’re trying to hedge your bets or what is no, we originally listed because we just wanted to move to The area of town where my kids go to school so they could be around their school friends, so it didn’t start off as a we got to sell this placement and Be prepared under fear it was originally based on just trying to be closer to my kids friend How long is your husband on the market I? hear a Year yes, no offers not. I want to offer yet, no Okay, so that makes it a little difficult to sell a year or two ago. What was the housing market like it was? Very busy, and you could get top dollar for your house at that point Chloe smokes, so if the jobs paused and you’re not working then what do you do I? don’t know I would phone old employers and try to get work locally which still might be a possibility, but again as as a ticketed carpenter, it’s not always easy to find a really good paying job Mm-Hmm, so for the longest time we were getting by Okay, so the idea of a pause would be well, we’re going to pause it We’re going to decide whether now we’re going to go ahead, and then we might so then what happens if they go, okay? Well, we’re going to hit the build button again d then give up on the employer that has hired you when during a pause and go back to sightsee or Those are all things you have to decide at the time right because I do I do sacrifice a lot of family time even though. I’m home every night. You know I like to coach my kids hockey I can’t do that on a shift schedule where I’m not home till 7:30 so even though it’s a great job a person does still sacrifice for those kinds of things right, but ultimately I Would say yeah I would probably go back to this job if they fired back up What happens they cancel what do you think you would do? if they cancelled on Short term I would probably try and make into be here until I can sell my house and and probably end up moving Many things to likely or just selling your house if they cancelled the project well this project is really helping for think John get by right now and if none of the oil and gas goes through then forcing John might be in a bad spot and It scares me to think about What what it might be like especially personally? What would we do you know nobody’s going to buy a house you don’t want to have to turn the kings in right? But they’re all legitimate fears that we have right now Then you’re living with that every day right now. Yes That’s going to be hard it is hard. Yeah It’s it’s hard to enjoy your your day to day stuff when you have that looming over you call Excuse me constantly Yeah, I’m sorry that you’re in that situation. I I can’t imagine It’s got to be very difficult. Thank you very much for for Sharing what must be a very clean time absolutely, thanks purr for having Me Ackerman thank you for having us in your chambers here Thank you with the indecision Right now or the uncertainty around sightsee? What’s the mood like here in port St.. John I would say in a word concerned And what does that do what does a doodle community when people are concerned? Well? It’s really putting a lot of families on stress They don’t know if they’re going to have income coming in in the next week’s months, whatever whatever that means and You know when you’re trying to raise small children, and we do have a young community that is very stressful no doubt you’re also trying to run the city how does The fact that this major project is going on here How does that affect you right now? And what might change if the project gets stalled or canceled well? first of all the Community measures agreement that we have On this project let’s explain what the community measures agreement is sure so fort St. John has a significant community measures agreement with BC hydro That deals with some of the mitigation and compensation for the construction of this dam. That is just seven kilometers from our downtown So we would really have to take a look at the impact of that Disruption how much money are we talking about here with the community bridges agreement well? It’s I couldn’t tell you an exact amount. I read it. It’s a million dollars a year during conflict during construction Increasing at about 3% per year three and a half three and a half percent green compound however and so yes You’re right on that, but they also contribute to the RcMP They’re contributing to other things, so that’s why I say I can’t put it okay, so it’s more than that it Oh, it is. Yes, there’s other contributions that Aren’t actual money coming to the city their contributions in other ways So we look at what’s happened or in oil and gas over the last two years and that has had an impact on the economy Here sure yeah, the drilling slow down yet. So there’s less money moving through the city everybody Takes a hit on that sure site C comes along What does that do to the economy so that absorbed a lot of that hit absolutely it didn’t absorb all of it? But it did absorb some of it some of the businesses were able to get Contracts with site C. Yeah sites he had absorbed quite a bit of it So it was well and gas coming back were you seen the economy rebound rate? We are seeing thing to pick up here She’s good. Yeah, so the natural gas extraction with the LNG and some LnG projects have Have moved forward wood fiber for one and others have indicated that they are moving forward the reality is is that they’re all at different Stages and so that is no longer the year-To-year drilling program that we were so used to for many decades We now LnG would be a 40 year business plan And that would enable us to really diversify things and build that value add industry Mm-hmm so is it safe to say that if site C gets paused or Cancelled that those people who are working there and the that businesses that are you know benefiting from it right now could You know fairly gracefully move over into another stream of revenue or jobs not at this time? We need some of the significant LnG proponents to make a positive financial Investment decision for that to happen and we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet What does it do for your ability as city council to plan right now? If you’re uncertain about what’s going to happen we wait everyday to hear what the results are going to be so We’re walking forward on thin ice so I see Remains it lists to say in limbo. What does that do with your ability to be able to plan? You know new community amenities and some of the programs that you offer? Do you have to come up with contingency plans well? We are going to have to come up with contingency plans or even worse cancel programs And you know I’ve always said that you’ve got to senior levels of government that they shift their policies even a little bit and the municipalities are the catch basins for all of those social issues that will happen as a result because people could have a very good paying job and Something shifts they lose that and those people who have been contributing people In our community are now no longer contributing But part of the system that they had contributed to before So it’s a cool place to be it is not a comfortable place to be at all and I think that It’s we try to impress upon those who govern At the senior levels of government that this is a day-To-day issue for For people right across Canada all right good. Thank you very much for doing that you Jennifer Moore thank you for inviting us to be here for this important conversation Thank you for inviting me to be part of a conversation You are a fundraiser for the port St.. John Hospital Foundation. How important is Site C to you and your the work you do There’s 2,200 people employed down on site seven kilometers from downtown That’s a big chunk of our Economy as far as it goes from a business perspective Individual perspective, there’s a major impact There’s north of 60 60 percent of the workforce that works here that lives here in the region here in Fort, St. John that are working on-site So it’s it’s important to us What does the uncertainty about not knowing whether or not the projects going to move forward? Do for you and your ability to do your job. It’s a big problem for us individuals If they have uncertainty about their jobs moving forward there They put their wallet in their back pocket Instead of pulling it out and writing a check for us and this is not just about the hospital foundation It’s also about the women’s resource center in the united way and a litany of other Nonprofit organizations in our community that build our community to what it is So how do you plan around this like if we hear that? You’re the project may get paused before? There’s a final decision as to whether or not you move forward do you keep going with your fundraising? Programs do you have to realign do you look for other sources of revenue? You say well? Maybe that one’s not going to work right now the thought process is how do we keep the pie the same size? And that is an ongoing conversation And I believe it’s an ongoing conversation for every nonprofit in this community What happens if the project is cancelled because we know that? BC hydro and Peace River Hydro partners are committed to putting More than a million dollars back into the community each year during construction and that money affects a wide variety of program absolutely, so what dan Well, that’s a good question. I’m not entirely certain that we’ve we figured out the answer to that Certainly if the hydro project stops it’s going to mean there’s substantial changes to our community Not just from a social perspective The population will likely shrink a little bit there’ll be folks that will leave the community to find work elsewhere That’s going to mean that we have a smaller pool. So we have a smaller fundraising pool. So we have site C And it’s there’s individuals who work there who donate to the foundation? There are companies who work there who consider the foundation to be really important, but they also consider other organizations to be important but certainly because of the scale of the project It’s got a massive impact on our community how generous are people here in good times? Oh my goodness the community is incredibly generous They know we know I said not they we I live here. This is my home We know that we need to support ourselves Because sometimes the folks south of the rocks And I sort of mean McKenzie cells don’t really understand the The challenges that we face up here So what do you think is going to happen to a generosity if we see? continued uncertainty I I’m worried I Truthfully here at foundation. I I worry about our ability to Raise the money that that we have put into our budget that we think we can raise I’m new in this role, and I have high aspirations and big goals and Take-no-Prisoners sort of attitude, but I’m worried that I’m going to be able to achieve those goals that I That I that I set for the organization Really, they’re the environment and the economic environment ism is a big player it’s 80 percent on what we do and that’s money that goes directly to the hospital to fund equipment and Where else does it go? It stays here at every dollar raised here stays here, so 108 thousand dollars or the hundred and sixty ultimately stays here in the community for cancer treatment right here in fort St.. John Annually, you know that the money we raised with our be an angel campaign it all stays here It does not leave the community we are putting money into the MrI that’s being installed right now We did a capital campaign a number of years ago to install a cT scanner Recently we bought fetal Wireless fetal heart monitors, we have a wonderful donor in vancouver that does provincial support on Healthcare that helped us replace Helped us replace some Icu beds You know that all this stuff is important You know there’s an individual in our hospital it’s been struggling in the health system for a year and a half and has been bumped around and We just recently did what matters to you des and what’s important to you when you get engaged with the healthcare system And his response was I need consistent messaging across the province because I’m a resident of BC And I need to know that I’m treated care. I’m treated for the same way in Vancouver as I am and for taejeon That’s part of what we’re doing here at the foundation is ensuring to the best of our ability in a smaller community That we can treat people Here instead of having to send them to the bigger centers when that’s possible. There’s more. Thank you. I’m best of luck. Thank you you

2 thoughts on “The Fate of Fort St. John, Alberta and Site C Dam (w/ Fort St. John residents)

  1. I'd bet it's doubly hard for the people who are the descendants of valley homesteaders, who have lived in the valley their entire lives, who have had their lands and homes expropriated. People who took jobs at site c knew this was possible, you made that choice. Also, there is NOT 60% of area workers at site c. The majority of workers at site c are flown in and they are flown out with their pay check in their pocket that is spent elsewhere. This entire video is one sided and mostly BS.

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