COASTAL LIVING: Time to bring workers home

NANAIMO – Sustainable energy initiatives providing well-paying jobs in other parts of B.C.

Have you noticed how many people have moved away or are commuting to the oil patch in order to make a decent wage? So much so that West Jet now flies into Nanaimo. With the demise of local value-added jobs and manufacturers it is understandable that people would make this choice.

Migration away by younger people is likely one reason local schools are being closed. It is certain that having to commute or move, common in developing world countries, is now here.

Why? Sadly, policy and economic decisions being made in Ottawa and Victoria are creating this trend. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way.

There is a growing movement of organizations, First Nations, companies and individuals that are moving in the opposite direction, thus are creating good-paying local jobs, boosting local economies, and improving the environment at the same time.

Take, for example, the T’Sou-ke (Sooke) First Nation. They have built the largest solar electric project in B.C. with the goal of having the $1.5 million project make them more sustainable, as well as provide a blueprint for other communities to reduce their carbon footprint. It is one of several such projects underway on its territory. Nine band members are now solar certified, with more good-paying jobs soon to be created.

This is quite remarkable given that the federal and provincial governments subsidise fossil fuel production at a rate that is 10 times greater than for renewable energy. Yet the economics of sustainable energy and especially energy conservation are such that despite billions of annual subsidies to fossil fuels “green” technologies are being embraced, producing up to eight times the employment per dollar invested. With decent salaries.

Our non-profit is hosting Jonathan Kassian who knows about how to boost renewable energy production, energy efficiency measures, transit and sustainable forestry, all while preserving the natural environment.

Kassian earned a master’s degree in European Affairs from Lund University in Sweden, and is the new coordinator of GreenJobs B.C.

His talk is set for Sunday (March 2), 1:30 p.m.,  at Brechin United Church, 1998 Estevan Rd. Admission is free.

Isn’t it time we brought our skilled workers back home?