Blair Lekstrom joins HD Mining as community liaison

Lynsey Kitching


HD Mining once again has a presence here in town, as seen by the construction activity at the Monkman Commons, as well as a few new folks out and about.

The company has also recruited a very familiar face to the Peace Region to maintain communications and build relationships between HD Mining and local communities. This person is Blair Lekstrom, lifetime resident of the Peace Region, former mayor of Dawson Creek and former Peace River South MLA.

“My role is to ensure I get what’s going on with the project out to local governments, the regional district, First Nations, and work with community groups, chamber of commerce, seniors groups,” says Lekstrom.

He says often there are great projects tabled for the Peace region, but the companies don’t know what’s going on at ground level in the communities and their expectations when new companies are coming in. “I’m going to help them in that way,” explains Lekstrom.

He has already begun working with the company and putting together timelines to get out to council. However, there have been no dates set yet in terms of meetings.

“It’s really an ongoing project. We can’t go and visit a group once and think that’s it. We need to get the message out about the project; updates on foreign workers; what the future holds; and opportunities to employ local people.”

In regards to the underground coal mining project itself, Lekstrom says, “I’ve looked at the project, and there is a minimal footprint on the environment. The workers are the key issue and what went on, early on.”

He continues, “It’s not about winning or losing. A company can’t commit to go and train all the people they need and hire people until they know they have an approved mine.”

As of print, HD Mining has brought in 28 workers to live in Tumbler Ridge. They have received approval to extract a bulk coal sample to evaluate the commercial viability of the proposed mine. They will first be assembling the specialized equipment for underground work. Once this step is complete, a group will be coming in to do the bulk sample. They will begin by sinking the decline to a depth of over 500 metres.

“If the test works out, and they develop the mine, then the full training and operations with the community and college will be put in place. I think that makes a great deal of sense with communication always being a big part of the process,” says Lekstrom.

Another issue for HD Mining is housing, with the Monkman Commons still under construction, yet seemingly very close to habitable. HD Mining has confirmed they will be temporarily using the Twilight Lodge to house their workers, until the units are complete.

Canada Dehua International owns the Twilight Lodge. The company has begun working on Vancouver Island, and has some relationship with HD as to their use of the facility.

The parameters of this relationship have not been defined to the TR News.

There has been no timeline given for the completion of the new housing units, however HD Mining says they are working to complete the units as quickly as possible…first day of snow last year was Oct. 2.