Stephen Watson from BC Hydro (left), BC Hydro scholarship recipient Joe Barnes (centre), and Randall Heidt from North Island College.

BC Hydro scholarships prepare trades students for opportunites

Seven $1,000 scholarships were provided to North Island College trades students in Campbell River and the Comox Valley as part of an effort to help local communities prepare for opportunities provide by a number of large capital projects proposed for the Campbell River hydroelectric system.

“We are always looking at providing community awareness of our large proposed dam safety projects and from that, supporting opportunities for businesses and job seekers to get prepared,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “The John Hart project peaked at about 500 jobs, and for the three dam safety projects, they may combine to provide a few hundred jobs at peak. The jobs numbers are still very preliminary as these projects continue to be refined and developed.”

The scholarships were provided to two students who are First Nation, three students needing financial assistance, and two students with high academics. Areas of study included one industrial automation, two carpentry, and four electrician apprenticeship.

Watson says they will be providing six scholarships each fall from 2020 through 2023, or an additional four years of scholarship opportunities. That will bring the total NIC trades scholarship funding total to $31,000.

“We encourage potential future trades students to learn more about these scholarships from North Island College,” adds Watson. “We’re very proud to provide these scholarships, and while there are no guarantees these students may eventually work on our projects, it broadly supports the community to have trades people for future work and projects. The last few years we have been working more closely with NIC and they have wonderful facilities and programs. It’s a good partnership.”

“We’re so grateful to BC Hydro for its continued support for NIC trades students,” says North Island College’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Randall Heidt. “Student awards like these ones make a huge difference in the lives of our students.”

“BC Hydro worked for years with the Campbell River community towards the ultimate success of the John Hart project, and that work was a great foundation for the large dam safety projects to come,” says North Island MLA, and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Claire Trevena. “It’s wonderful to see these opportunities for trades students and I know it will be a big jumpstart towards their future careers.”

BC Hydro has a series of proposed seismic upgrade projects at all three dams on the Campbell River system that may all begin as early as 2023/2024. This includes the John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project, so that it can withstand a severe earthquake, the Ladore Spillway Seismic Upgrade Project, and the Strathcona Dam Water Discharge Upgrade Project. Watson says he continues to engage with the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce, North Island Employment Foundations Society, North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society, and Vancouver Island Construction Association, in ongoing awareness and preparation. BC Hydro is directly consulting with First Nations on the projects, including possible economic opportunities.

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