Prince Rupert School District concerned about appropriateness of work camp near middle school

The concept of a 2,500-person work camp being created near Prince Rupert Middle School is causing uneasiness for SD52.

The concept of a 2,500-person work camp being created near Prince Rupert Middle School is causing uneasiness for the Prince Rupert School District (SD52) board of education.

The City of Prince Rupert has allowed Horizon North to investigate the construction of two 1,250-person lodges on a portion of city-owned property, formally the city’s garbage dump.

A public hearing on the subject was held on Nov. 24, with SD52 secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre voicing concerns on negative impacts other worker camps in the north have had on communities, referring to a number of studies on the subject.

When the board of education met on Dec. 9, a majority spoke against the proposal.

“If this group of people comes in, they’re here to do a job. There’s no ownership in the community,” said Tina Last, board chair.

“From a council’s perspective, I wonder what the rational could possibly have been to put it in such a close proximity.”

Trustee Janet Beil agreed with Last’s sentiment.

“I don’t believe this is appropriate,” Beil said.

“Research says that these type of facilities may attract things we don’t want it to, i.e. drugs and alcohol. Our middle school is just too close to where they are proposing this.”

Trustee Judy Carlick-Pearson, who sat on Prince Rupert council last term, said the city didn’t consider the closeness to the middle school as a major risk, concluding it should be brought to the city’s attention.

The only trustee who didn’t have an issue with the proposal was Louisa Sanchez.

“I don’t think it’s going to harm our school,” Sanchez said.

“What I was told was that it would be something like a hotel.”

The board of education voted to have SD52 staff request a meeting with the city to express its apprehension, with Sanchez being the only trustee in opposition.

Horizon North has stated that the camp would have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol and would be contained to prevent people from wondering the area.