New program offers young people work experience with BC Parks, conservation service

A new program launched by the provincial government is aiming to connect young British Columbians with jobs in environmental management and conservation.

The jobs, which will be with BC Parks and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) during the fall and winter months, are being offered under the $1.8-million Youth Employment Program (YEP), the provincial government announced Wednesday.

“These new positions give young people an opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience in the natural environment protection sector and reflect our commitment to an inclusive and diverse workforce,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a press release.

“Creating job opportunities now and providing building blocks for future careers are our priorities as we build back a better and more secure future for young British Columbians.”

Young British Columbians have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finance Minister Carole James said June’s unemployment rate for 15- to -24-year-olds was “a staggering 29 per cent,” up from 28.4 per cent in May.

The YEP will give young people the chance to work in areas such as recreation, conservation, public outreach and Indigenous relations, while being mentored by park rangers and conservation officers, across five parks across B.C., according to the YEP website.  

Locations for the field-based crews include North Vancouver, Parksville, Penticton, Hagensborg and Prince George.

Some applicants will also have opportunities to undertake project work in Smithers, as well as with the Provincial Services Branch in Victoria, which will contribute to research, communications, program development and policy work.  

“More boots on the ground will help ensure nature is safeguarded and that British Columbians can continue to enjoy outdoor places that are becoming increasingly popular destinations to visit,” said Bruce Passmore, executive director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia.

“We applaud this new initiative to hire young people into conservation jobs as part of B.C.’s economic recovery.

The provincial government says the program will focus on diversity and inclusion, and will aim to hire Indigenous youth and other young people from under-represented groups who may face employment barriers.

The COS will have 18 positions through the YEP, while BC Parks will have 25. The COS will initially draw from an existing list of candidates, with a second phase of hiring later this month if necessary.

Meanwhile, BC Parks positions will be available on the B.C. government employment opportunities page by mid-August.

© Richmond News