District looking at youth employment, sidewalks, and excessive wood smoke

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - District looking at youth employment

Providing employment for students in small towns and rural areas is always a struggle.

As the costs of continuing education and commuting to work rise, it is imperative that local government be aware of the needs of the young people in the community.  Working where you live is the ultimate goal, and for students it is the only choice in most cases.

Around the province, some municipal governments have partnered with their local schools and employment offices to build a network of potential young employees, and a pool of the seasonal or casual positions available locally.

As a result these communities have provided employment year after year through a defined student employment program.

In all towns, there are tasks that need to be done each and every year. The need for employees grows with the size of the District and the amenities provided to residents. Having a plan to get the jobs completed year after year, with competent employees at a reasonable cost, is required. Administration and training costs are always a concern,  so there should be a plan for some of the students to return to the program and give guidance and training to the new team members. This provides a pool of labour that with minimal supervision can complete the tasks at hand.

I am hopeful that with the combined efforts of such groups as the District of Barriere, TNRD Area O, the Chamber of Commerce, and School District 73 that a youth employment and mentorship program can be developed.

This program will identify employment opportunities and match them to local students. I am also hopeful that this program will start this year and be able to be carried on into the future.

For its part, the District has hired a year-round outside jobs supervisor to facilitate the management of the workload and staff working in various positions outside the District office. This is a hands-on position that is designed to provide needed supervision, training and support to outside staff and contractors. Providing a high level of support and training to workers is the best way to ensure both worker and employer satisfaction with a job well done.

The air quality here in the valley is getting worse as time goes on. Most of the problem can be attributed to the smoke from wood heaters. In the past,  this occurred when we were experiencing a thermal inversion. Now the problem is apparent almost everyday during the heating season.

As unpopular as this will make me with some residents, I think it is time to take action to clean the air. I do not advocate radical changes like banning all wood burning. I burn wood, and I appreciate the benefits of doing this properly. However, I do advocate that we put in place rules around visible smoke and the burning of materials we all know to be harmful. There is no reason for a wood burning appliance to smoke. Technology has progressed so that they are almost fool proof.  Even older units will burn clean if the wood is dry and the unit is properly maintained and attended. It is time to put in rules and penalties to encourage some users to stop polluting the air.

The District recently hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the design of Barriere Town Road. The road will be rebuilt after the construction of the sewer and waterline upgrades. One of the design proposals is to incorporate a separated pedestrian pathway along the roadway. This would provide a safe place for pedestrians and those that use mobility aids such as scooters. In my opinion, we could safely call this a sidewalk, but for some reason it is being referred to as a pathway. No matter what it is called, it is to increase the safety of our residents both young and old.

The plan also includes improving and defining access to businesses where needed,  and providing a more consistent appearance along the length of Barriere Town Road in the downtown core. Plans for benches, planters, and other design features will be accommodated as the budget allows. Some funds are already allocated for some rock removal at one of the downtown intersections.