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Locally based Youth Climate Corps of BC excited to see funding arrive from provincial government

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 11th, 2024

BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman was in Nelson Monday to speak to the $3 Million in funding that will be provided by the provincial government to the Youth Climate Corps of BC.

The funds, allocated in the 2024 provincial budget, will assist with the training of more young people across the province working with local governments and First Nation communities for careers that will help their communities reduce emissions and adapt to the changing climate.

Heyman, along with Kootenay Central (formerly Nelson-Creston) MLA Brittny Anderson, were excited to acclaim the benefits of the program to Nelson and the surrounding area.

“For the last few years, if not more, Brittny Anderson has been cornering me every chance she gets to talk about the great work Ben Simoni and the Youth Climate Corps of BC have been doing starting the East Kootenays and the work they’ve been doing around here and have recently expanded to Vancouver and a couple of other places,” the Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister told The Nelson Daily.

“I’ve met (Ed, Youth Climate Corps of BC) Ben (Simoni) and was really impressed with what they were doing, pretty much on a shoe-string budget and growing incrementally (with) thoughtful programs.”

Anderson, the Premier’s Special Advisor on Youth, was a fan of the program right from the start when Southern Interior MLA was approached with the program idea while on Nelson City Council by fellow councillor Rik Logtenberg and John Cathro.

“I am incredibly grateful to Minister Heyman, to Premier (David) Eby, to Minister (Katrine) Conroy for really getting behind and supporting this project,” explained Anderson.

“It’s really meant a lot to me personally . . . I really believe in the work that Ben Simoni and the Youth Climate Corps of BC are doing.”

“The work benefits the young people, who are learning skills, but it also benefits the community as they are doing things like wildfire mitigation or working to do deep retrofits to homes for non-profits,” Anderson added.

“So, I really believe in this work.”

Money well spent

Thanks to Anderson’s lobbying, Heyman has been aware of the work Ben Simoni and the Youth Climate Corps of BC.

Heyman said he’s seen the Youth Climate Corps of BC director’s presentations to the Union of BC Municipalities convention, talking to people about the important work that they can do in communities — like assisting with wildfire resilience, dealing with stream rehabilitation as well as in places where people want to reduce energy use or switch to renewable energy.

Heyman said these programs are important ideas for the province in terms in the climate and CleanBC plan.

“I looked at our CleanBC budget and thought what amount of money would really help them expand in a thoughtful way,” said Heyman, who was pleased to get the support of Premier (David Eby) and the Finance Minister (Katrine Conroy) allocated the funds to the Youth Climate Corps of BC.

“You don’t want to invite people to expand faster than they manage because that’s a recipe for disaster or failure.”

“So, $3 Million seemed like a good amount (for them) to take the next step show what could happen,” Heyman added.

“I think if this is successful then other potential future steps after that is great.”

Wildfire mitigation near Salmo is just one of the projects taken on by the Youth Climate Corps of BC. — Submitted photo

Building skills that benefit future employment

Anderson said applicants can be hired without skills, and work with professionals to teach them every step of the way and make sure all work is doing safely and receive certifications where they are applicable.

Applicants earn living wages while working together for four to six months to build skills, scale up climate action projects, and develop their leadership skills and community networks.

“Youth arrive without skills, and work with professionals to teach them every step of the way and make sure all work is doing safely and receive certifications where they are applicable,” Anderson explained.

“The program is a chance for those youth workers to build on those foundational work skills.”

Heyman echoed those thoughts.

“I think to give young people the chance to develop very useful skills that can employ them in the future and point them in a direction of doing work that is both important for the community . . . protecting communities from wildfire by removing interface fuels on the edge of the communities, but also taking measures that can help with emission reduction overall,” he said.

“I don’t think you can overstate what it means to young people who are feeling anxiety about the future to feel like they are actually doing something tangible about it, even if it’s their own small part it makes them feel part of something bigger and it gives them hope, I think.”

About Youth Climate Corps of BC

Youth Climate Corps B.C. was established in the Kootenays in 2020 as a program of Wildsight, a grassroots organization with regional team based throughout the region from Nelson to Kimberley and Golden to Fernie with autonomous branches in Creston, Elk Valley, Golden, Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook and Revelstoke.

The program provides people from 17-30 with training and work experience related to climate action.

Youth Climate Corps British Columbia (YCCBC) is a climate action campaign and program that builds on youth leadership to foster climate resilience and a livable, low-carbon future while paying young people a living wage.

Taylor, crew member, Youth Climate Corps BC is excited to be a part of the program. — Submitted photo

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