BCRCC scaffolders have been working on the Pembina LPG Export Terminal project on Watson Island in Prince Rupert since April 2019, with as many as 18 members on site at the project’s peak. BCRCC contractors continue to expand throughout the province, particularly in the northwest. And Skyhigh Canada’s participation at the Pembina facility has provided local and non-local members with thousands of hours of employment.
With members working to safely dismantle the scaffold surrounding the tanks, this project will come to an end for Skyhigh in early February. High winds have posed a particular challenge for Skyhigh, as part of the scope of work involves hoarding, and Watson island is known for its severe gusts of winds.
The Province is offering a new monetary benefit for British Columbia residents called the BC Recovery Benefit – “a one-time, tax-free payment of up to $1,000 for eligible families and single parents and up to $500 for eligible individuals. You have until June 30, 2021 to apply.” The portal to apply online opened today, December 18, 2020.
The benefit amount is determined by your 2019 tax return. Rates:
- Families and single parents: $1,000 for eligible families and single parents with a net income of up to $125,000; reduced benefit amount for eligible families and single parents with a net income of up to $175,000
- Individuals: $500 for eligible individuals with a net income of up to $62,500; reduced benefit amount for eligible individuals with a net income of up to $87,500
You must apply to receive the benefit. Applying online is the fastest way to get your payment. However, phone support for applying by phone begins December 21, 2020. People without a computer or internet access can visit a Service BC location near them to use a computer terminal.
Local 1907 has made a donation to the Surrey Food Bank on behalf of its membership. This year we ask, if possible, for you to help meet the growing need for support and help those who need it most. With donations down during the pandemic, combined with increased need, and with the busiest time of the year approaching, help is more important than ever.
Food banks are community funded, relying solely on donations made by individuals, organizations, and businesses. The Local is a long-time supporter of local food banks. Donations of $20 and over are eligible for a tax receipt. For more information please visit the Food Banks BC website.
by BCRCC representative Jeff Sloychuk
Oak and birch are two of the most loved trees in the world, and for good reason.
Oak, for carpenters, symbolizes strength, morale, resistance, and knowledge. It is associated with honour, nobility, and wisdom due to its size, toughness, and longevity.
The birch symbolizes beauty, rebirth, and utility. Birchbark was used for almost everything by our ancestors, from paper and maps to artwork and baskets. Birch has been used to ceremonially wrap the bodies of our deceased, as well as to line canoes. Birch is also one of the first trees to leaf back to life in the spring. It is the tree of renewal – of hope and of life.
Donald (Donnie) James Gill: son, father, grandfather, brother, friend, mentor, and carpenter, passed away after a brief but stoic battle with cancer at his home in Whitehorse last week. He was 56.
Today, as we lay Donnie to rest in his Yukon-made casket of oak and birch, I want to recognize those members of the Yukon Carpenters Union Local 2499 who volunteered to build his final resting place. Fletcher DeGraff, Tytus Hardy, Doug Rody, Richard Atlin Jr., Rodney (Smarch) Jules, Laurie Catto, and Levon Lacoste. Thank you for your beautiful work for a beautiful guy. Special kudos to Keith Wolfe-Smarch, master Tlingit carver, for the beautiful addition of a carving in red cedar of Donnie’s name and the symbol of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. That is the kind of person Donnie was. He always could inspire.
If everyone whose lives were touched by Donnie were present at the service celebrating this man, there would not be a room in the Yukon that could hold them all. In COVID-19 times, it makes this loss even more difficult. It breaks my heart that I cannot be present at the service. I’m sure it does for many others.
But I can help curate the stories that have been told in the Yukon Carpenters Union meetings and from conversations with tradespeople and contractors across the Yukon.
There’s long-time president of the Yukon Carpenters Tytus Hardy’s story about working at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre with Donnie: Tytus was having a small but heated dispute with one of the sub-contractors that might have turned ugly and could have led to an early dismissal for Brother Hardy had Donnie not stepped in with his trademark diplomacy and smile to save the day.
Yukon Carpenters Union Vice-President Billy Bromell remembers multiple camp jobs with Donnie as a great place to be with great company. The two of them stayed in Carcross staff housing for a year with lead instructor Al Narcisse teaching carpentry class in the morning to a group of Carcross/Tagish First Nations (CTFN) apprentices and building Tiny Homes every afternoon. That was a special project and a special time to pass along skills, knowledge, and the notion that a career in the trades can lead to an incredibly fulfilling life, as Donnie put it in the CTFN Tiny Homes video (Google the video, it is worth a watch).
Everyone has a favourite Don Gill moment, memory, and story.
Richard Atlin Jr. remembers working on the flooring of the CTFN Learning Centre with Donnie. For levelling purposes (I assume), there were leaf rakes all over the ground. Donnie was wandering the site with his trademark John Wayne/carpenter gait (the ‘Donnie Walk’), and of course just like in an old Three Stooges episode, he stepped on the rake. WHACK! Up it goes. It nails him. Right in the forehead. Everyone saw it. There was a moment of quiet before somebody started giggling. Then Donnie led the laughter. That is why you wear your hardhat the correct way though. No goose egg on that day for him.
For Nelson Lepine, the guy behind the Tiny Homes concept of learning and apprenticeship, Donnie’s work-life story is more about his ability to mentor. He really cared about what the First Nation and the Union were doing with the concept of practical-life and trades learning and healing. He knew that the approach to lifting people up had to change in ways to help people move forward. Donnie was a crucial part to those successes.
Donnie had many tips and tricks of the trade: keep your nails heads up; don’t always count on the skill saw guard coming down automatically (he learned that one the hard way); and above all, keep smiling. Life is surprisingly good, overall, if you let it be.
Donnie’s vehicles would occasionally go missing from the jobsite. We were never sure if he just left the keys in that old Jimmy of his or not, but the vehicle would always show up in McIntyre. It never fazed him. “Oh, I guess one of the boys needed a lift home,” he would say, then he’d dutifully head up to the Village to pick up the Jimmy. It was always in the same shape as he had left it. Donnie liked helping people: it didn’t matter if they had asked first or not.
My personal favourite story is when the Union sent Donnie down to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Training Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was quite a chore on its own to help him get his passport, as Donnie wasn’t the best at paperwork. Or computers. But we somehow managed. Anyway, Donnie called me when he arrived at the training centre; apparently, he had spent the entire line-up at U.S. customs sweating over the fact that he might not exactly be welcome in the good old US of A. This fact he had failed to mention to me, even after the Union bought his flights. I guess that when our friend Donnie was younger and a little wilder, he ran the border at Skagway.
I mean ran. An ore-hauling truck was stopped at Skagway customs. Donnie popped the clutch and blew by the truck on the right-hand side and right past the customs station without stopping. He decided that perhaps it was time to turn around when an authoritative voice came across the loudspeakers on the mountains of the pass explaining that if he did not turn around, they would apprehend and open fire. Donnie turned around. Apparently, U.S.A. customs managed to forget and forgive. Or maybe they made a mistake. Regardless, Donnie got to take journeyman mentoring courses at the training centre in Vegas, and apparently got to see a lot of other sights and sounds in Sin City. But we will save those stories for another time.
Donnie put his stamp on the Yukon: from scaffolding bridges over the Klondike River on the Dempster Highway to the Jim Robb caricature homes at Pelly Farms, from the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre to the Carcross/Tagish Learning Centre, from homes to shops to camps right down to the Yukon Women in Mining offices at 106 Strickland Street, Donnie built the Yukon. Well, he did have some help. But trust me, it was mostly him.
As an Indigenous Red Seal carpenter from the ?Esdilagh First Nation (but essentially adopted by the Selkirk in Pelly), Donnie was an incredible role model for First Nations youth and apprentices of all ages. Nothing against the other Tiny Homes instructors, but Donnie was clearly the favourite. A harsh disciplinarian he was not. But with his constant smile, unflappable work ethic, and infectious positivity, it was tough to have a bad day on the jobsite with Donnie. Donnie was also famously sober – and was frankly a mentor to me when alcohol began being a problem in my life. He smoked like a chimney and drank coffee by the gallon but was proof that living sober is worth it. I love him for that.
We can be thankful for small miracles. At least Donnie was able to be at home and not alone in a Vancouver hospital. At least he was able to visit so many of the people that filled his heart with the love he then poured back out. He was even driving right up to the end: he wanted to visit everyone.
He did not manage to get to everyone. But he wanted to. That is the kind of human Donnie was. We could all learn a lot from his humanity, his empathy, his kindness, his compassion, and his carpentry.
I know I did. Thank you so much Donnie. And mussi to Donnie’s family, who very unselfishly shared him with the Union and with all of the Yukon. We will never forget him.
Jeff Sloychuk, on behalf of the Northern Carpenters and Allied Workers Local 2499 and the British Columbia Regional Council of Carpenters, as well as Donnie’s brothers, sisters, and friends in construction and in life, everywhere.
The Yukon Carpenters Union Local 2499 has launched the Donnie Gill Apprenticeship Award for Indigenous Yukon apprentices who best demonstrate the qualities of diplomacy, work ethic, and positivity on the jobsite. To make a donation, please make cheques out to Northern Carpenters & Allied Workers Society, 106 Strickland Street, Whitehorse, YT, Y1A 2J5, or send an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BC Regional Council of Carpenters, together with Bird Construction and the Gitxaala Nation, JGC Fluor (the prime contractor for LNG Canada), and the Industry Training Authority, joined forces to develop an eight-week Introduction to Carpentry and Formwork Program that concluded on October 23, 2020. The program was designed to give Gitxaala Nation members the skills to become carpenter apprentices. Ten individuals, four of whom are women, successfully completed the program and are now employed with Bird on the LNG Canada (LNGC) project in Kitimat.
The program, delivered in Prince Rupert by BCRCC Red Seal carpenter instructors Mike Andrews and Kristine Byers, covered carpentry and formwork projects, the use of power tools, safety certification, and using materials specific to Bird’s LNGC scope of work. This partnership strongly aligns with BCRCC’s goals of working closely with industry stakeholders to provide a skilled and safety-conscious workforce and ensuring career and apprenticeship opportunities are available to Indigenous people, women, and other residents from the community.
The Carpentry Employers Association of BC supported the program with a generous contribution towards the tools required to conduct the training.
The program was built on a meaningful collaboration between industry, government, labour, and the Indigenous community. “This is a partnership the BCRCC is honored to be a part of and believes is a model that should be considered and relied on going forward,” says BCRCC president Mark Derton.
The BCRCC is committed to maintaining a 25% apprentice ratio on the LNGC project and is indenturing with the ITA those who successfully complete the program as carpenter apprentices. The BCRCC will provide sponsorship and support throughout their apprenticeships. A second cohort is scheduled in early spring 2021.
“I have taken trades courses a few times before, but I’ve never completed them until now! I never in my life would have seen myself as a carpenter even though my grandpa, my dad, my sister, and two of my brothers are amazing carpenters. Seeing this great opportunity put before me by Gitxaala and Bird, I jumped at it. Once I got into the hands-on part, I really enjoyed all the projects I was able to complete and to help my classmates complete. I’m very thankful to the instructors, Kristine Byers and Mike Andrews, Rebecca Kragnes from Bird, Evie Nance from the Gitxaala Continuous Learning Center, and anyone else that I have met throughout this course.”
– Violet Walter, Graduate (photo 1)
“Unlike my boating license that I’ve only put to use for work a handful of times, or my environmental monitoring certification, this time, I’m actually going to be a part of the team! Four years from now, whether I stick with Bird Construction or am dispatched through the Union and continue to attend school every year, I will have my Red Seal Carpenter ticket. I’ve come a long way from being a drop-out teen mom and am excited to see where all the hard work I’ve done these past few months will take me.”
– Patricia Lewis, Graduate (photo 2)
It has been two years since LNG Canada announced its positive final investment decision. Touted as the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history, the LNG export facility in Kitimat is well underway with BCRCC members hard at work on several major scopes of the project.
In 2019, members began work with Bird Construction on the Cedar Valley Lodge that will eventually house up to 4500 people. The lodge opened last summer and will be accommodating approximately 1500 workers by the end of 2020. In July 2019, Bird was also successful in winning the nineteen non‑process buildings and has recently started on a large civil concrete package that will have our members forming and placing 82,000 cubic meters over the next two years.
Another BCRCC signatory contractor, BFI, has been very successful in securing major concrete formwork scopes on the site. BFI is employing BCRCC carpenters on three segments of the project: the LNG storage tank foundation, the river water intake, and a large concrete foundation package.
Lorneville Mechanical has BCRCC scaffolders working on the massive LNG storage tank, currently in its early stages. More BCRCC members are employed with Fluor Constructors Canada and Brock Industrial, supplying miscellaneous scaffold support.
In April, the project scaled back the onsite workforce due to worries about the COVID-19 pandemic. Hiring resumed later in the spring, taking advantage of the summer construction season. By August, the project reported having roughly 3000 workers, 800 of whom were locals.
Over 300 BCRCC members are now employed on the site, working for five BCRCC signatory contractors, and performing major scopes of the overall project. Additional workers will continue to be added, with peak construction expected in the third quarter of 2021, creating an estimated 4500 jobs and employing 7000 to 7500 workers, varying with the shift-work nature of employment.
The $417-million Patient Care Tower Project will take place in two phases. Phase one includes the nine-storey building, rooftop helipad, and two levels of underground parking.
Up to 50 carpenters and apprentices have worked on the project with Ellis Don since December 2018. BCRCC representatives Derrek Autzen and Mike Andrews did a tremendous job ensuring that local members received an opportunity to work on such a substantial project in their own backyard.
Phase-two renovations will begin after the completion of the Patient Care Tower, which scheduled for an early-2022 opening. Phase two includes the renovation and expansion of the emergency, pediatrics, and anaesthetic recovery departments, as well as the morgue. Completion of phase two is planned for fall 2024.
Ellis Don Infrastructure was named the preferred proponent for the project by Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, as part of the NDP Government’s August 2018 Royal Inland Hospital Patient Care Tower Project announcement: “Premier Horgan and I are committed to getting the Patient Care Tower built at the Royal Inland Hospital – the sooner the better,” Dix proclaimed. BCRCC members started on the project a mere six months later.
In addition to BCRCC Local 1370 members performing the concrete formwork, other BCRCC signatory contractors are involved in the project. Industrial Scaffold Services L.P. and Kamloops Scaffold have provided safe access and regress for all workers on site. Most recently, Wrapex Westcoast Inc. began the duct insulation work, and Floorlayers 1541 members are expected to begin work with Maxwell Floors later this summer.
Photos: Local 1370 carpenters working on the Royal Inland Hospital Patient Care Tower last week in Kamloops. Derrek Autzen providing members working for Wrapex Wescoast with aerial work platform certification.
The BCRCC supports the endeavour of Helmets to Hardhats to transition service members to a career in construction.
Their new booklet outlines the program and lists testimonials from veterans and industry stakeholders.
From their website, their mission:
“Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) is a registered not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting veterans who are transitioning from military service, and active reservists, into well paid, highly-skilled second careers in construction and related industries.
In partnership with construction trade unions, governments and industry, H2H streamlines the pathways to apprenticeship, advanced training and career placement opportunities in the construction industry with registered employers who support the men and women who have served our country.”