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Site C job fair draws hundreds

The contractors who will be building the Site C dam will have several hundred more resumes to add to the thousands they will sift through following a job fair in Prince George on Monday.
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A job fair for BC Hydro's Site C dam drew a crowd to the Coast Inn of the North on Monday.
The contractors who will be building the Site C dam will have several hundred more resumes to add to the thousands they will sift through following a job fair in Prince George on Monday.
 
Hours before the doors opened at the Coast Inn of the North, a lineup of about 250 people had already formed inside the rear lobby and out onto the catwalk outside, an indication of both the attractiveness of the jobs megaproject offers and of just how tough times are for many.
 
Near the front of the line was Jennifer Doering, 44, who traveled all the way from Victoria to get about four minutes of face time with a representative of Peace River Hydro Partners, the consortium awarded a $1.75-billion civil works contract for the dam, and to drop off a resume.
 
"It's a long way to come for just a few minutes but it'll be worthwhile if I get a job," Doering said.
 
A mother of four with one still living with her, Doering runs heavy equipment and operated a logging company for about nine years. But work dried up in that sector and she moved on to a coal mine in Elkford, but is once again out of work.
Prince George resident Ron Horinek, 62, spent five years working on projects in the oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alta., but has been out of work for a couple years.
 
"I've been doing a little bit of logging work since, but that's been kind of sporadic," Horinek said. "This'll last a few years, so that's always good."
 
Peace River Hydro Partnership's eight-year contract includes construction of an earth-fill dam, and a concrete foundation for the generating station and spillways at the site down the Peace River from the W.A.C. Bennett Dam near Hudson's Hope.
From the two job fairs held in the B.C. Peace last week, more than 3,300 resumes were dropped off for one of the 600 jobs available. But don't let those numbers discourage you, said Jim Schilling, among the four Peace River Hydro Partners representatives on hand  Monday to collect resumes.
 
"It's an eight-year project," Schilling said. "And there are going to be some other big projects coming on if we get some LNG projects in the province so we're expecting some people will probably move away from us.
"So we'll have some leakage on our labour force and we'll probably have to do another job fair to make sure that our resume pool is kept fresh."
 
Two more job fairs are scheduled, for Mackenzie today and Quesnel on Wednesday, but there are other ways for job hunters to add their names to the list. 
Applications to Peace River Hydro Partners can be submitted via e-mail, careers@prhp.ca. The project is seeking workers for nearly 30 different types of positions, from blasters to pipefitters to tunnelers.
Atco Two Rivers, which won the contract to provide the camp accommodations, did not have a representative in Prince George. But resumes can be sent to atcotworiversjobs@atcosl.com (include Atco Two Rivers in the subject line). 
Bearing placards and signs, a handful of protesters opposing the project stood outside the Coast Inn.
Protester Rob Budde said they were there in support of the Rocky Mountain Fort camp, which is blocking dam construction on the south bank of the Peace River, and to register their dismay over the project going ahead despite three cases against Site C still before the courts.
"Going through with the land clearing and the construction and the bridging of the river and the jobs fairs when there are three court cases seems kind of arrogant, it just doesn't seem right," Budde said.
Job seeker Ron Quinn, 70, was more upset with what he called a "sell-out" of organized labour, saying Peace River Hydro Partners is a non-union outfit. 
 
"It's the only dam being built in B.C. where there's no union contractor," he said.
 
A representative of the Christian Labour Association of Canada, criticized by some as a company union, as well as one from the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers, were on hand to sign up members.
Most at the fair simply remained focused on landing a job at the project.
 
Saraphine Michell, 48, listed off a range of skills, from operating heavy equipment to fighting fires to being a security guard. She lives in Smithers but up until October had been working for a construction company in Fort St. John.
"I'm actually looking forward to this going ahead," she said of Site C.
 
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