Windmill and Decontie Construction seek aboriginal workers for Zibi project

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    Windmill Developments is seeking aboriginal workers for the massive $1.2 billion residential, commercial and retail community on the Chaudiere and Albert Islands.

    However, Jeff Westeinde has told CBC Radio that there are challenges in finding and hiring aboriginal workers, given the Quebec construction labour rules and uncertainty about the number of individuals who will be interested in working on the $1.2 billion project.

    Windmill Developments is building the project on a 37-acre site, including condominium buildings, a boutique hotel, waterfront parks, shops and a network of cycling and pedestrian paths.

    Westeinde, co-founder of Windmill, told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning he’s looking to create a database of available and skilled aboriginal workers for the project, which could begin decontamination work in September or October of this year.

    Its partner Decontie Construction Inc. has issued a call-out to the Algonquin nation of Kitigan Zibi to build an inventory of Algonquin-Anishinabe construction workers, CBC has reported. Westeinde said he hopes to employ the workers and provide them with the proper qualifications.

    Workers from Kitigan Zibi do not have the proper union certification for Gatineau.  Westeinde said the solution may be for thecreation of a “special administrative zone” such as used by Hydro Quebec in the James Bay area to hire Cree workers.

    “We are very hopeful that discussions with the [Quebec construction workers’ union] will lead to a fruitful outcome. This is something they’re aiming to see as well,” Westeinde told CBC Radio, adding the union does have a dedicated liaison for aboriginal workers.

    While Westeinde said he wants to hire as many Algonquin workers as possible, the number of those either interested, qualified or available is not known. That’s why Windmill is not setting any specific target until after the database is put in place.

    “Essentially we’re building an inventory to say, here’s the availability of labour and the types of skill sets and interest they have. We’ll be working with both the [union] and the ministry of labour and some of the local colleges … for those who want training. That’ll tell us how many workers are interested,” Westeinde said.

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