B.C. fencing program funded

A federal/provincial employment program will foot the bill for a livestock fencing program pledged in May for British Columbia ranchers.

The federal and B.C. governments on Monday announced a $60 million commitment to a joint Job Opportunities Program to create immediate employment, aimed at communities and sectors hit hardest by economic downturn.

Of that funding, cost-shared equally by the feds and the province, over $5.5 million will go to the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association to deliver “several different range fencing-related components on Crown land, including fence line protection and replacing aging fences.

“This project will create jobs, strengthen local economies and provide much-needed fences along rangelands to protect both cattle and people,” the two governments said in a release Monday.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell had pledged the fencing program in Kamloops at the BCCA’s annual general meeting, but didn’t elaborate on a dollar value or timeframe. Campbell had also pledged the program on the campaign trail a few weeks earlier.

The fencing program is meant to build on a previous three-year, $9 million program that expired in 2007. About 600 km of fencing were built under the previous program, the province said in May.

However, the province added, an estimated 700 km of outstanding fencing is needed along highway corridors. Livestock wandering on highways and in rail corridors pose a “serious safety threat,” and cost ranchers thousands of dollars in avoidable expenses, the province said at the time.

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