Stop by the rink in Powell River on Sunday nights and you’ll likely catch father and son Mark and Eric Scott tearing up the ice with the Lund hockey team. Donning jerseys of blue and white, Mark, number 15, will be on defence, and Eric, number 18, will be zipping around the ice on centre.
The Scott men’s lifelong love of hockey is where the similarities begin. Father and son share a passion for the outdoors and the activities it inspires—biking, hiking, boating, fishing. Mark is a registered professional forester; Eric is working toward that designation. They share the same alma mater; they both work for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development—though they are in different divisions and their work doesn’t overlap—and they’re both members of the PEA.
“It warms my heart to have one of my kids working in the same work environment,” Mark says. “When I got out of high school I wanted to do something that I could advance in, something that had a skill set to it, but at the same time didn’t confine me to an office space,” he explains. “Eric naturally moved into that field as well. He had the same sort of interests as I had.”
Eric agrees, echoing his dad’s words: “I wanted to find something where I could work outdoors and not be stuck in the office.”
Both found their way into forestry.
Mark completed his Bachelor of Science in forestry at the University of British Columbia in 1986, then worked in the private sector for a few months before joining the PEA in a silviculture position that took him around the province: Clearwater, Horsefly, Haida Gwaii and, finally, Powell River, where he settled with his wife and raised his son and daughter.
Since 2003, he has been a natural resource supervisor in the ministry’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch, overseeing a crew of staff on the Sunshine Coast that focuses primarily on environmental compliance matters related to land, air and water. His division responds to complaints, conducts compliance inspections and carries out enforcement actions.
“We deal with the full matrix of environmental compliance issues, everything from unauthorized harvesting operations, unauthorized road building and maintenance, unauthorized uses and occupation of crown land, as well as water act violations, to name a few examples,” Mark says.
Because of the Sunshine Coast’s extensive coastline, Mark’s work involves a lot of boating and helicopter trips; the same position in the Interior would likely involve mainly road transportation, he explains.
Eric’s career is just beginning. In 2016, 30 years after his father, he graduated from UBC’s Faculty of Forestry. His decision to get his RPF was as inspired by the natural landscape as it was his father’s example.
“Growing up in Powell River, we’re spoiled here being immersed in the outdoors,” Eric says. “I enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and scuba diving. I wanted to find a role that could keep me outdoors and more connected to our natural environment.”
In high school, Eric got a glimpse of his future career by joining his dad at work on a job-shadow day. “It was a cool experience and a good introduction to the diversity of jobs within the field of forestry,” he remembers. During his undergraduate years, completing a Bachelor of Science in natural resource conservation, he started his first government position with the BC Wildfire Service. For five summers he fought forest fires, serving on the initial attack crew based on the Sunshine Coast. Once he graduated, he accepted a position as an authorization technologist in the tenures department at the Sunshine Coast FLNRORD office. The job involved issuing minor forest licences, conducting surveys and audits and assisting with forest health and invasive plants.
Currently, and until April 2019, he’s filling a temporary assignment as a First Nations Relations Forester in the stewardship division. When the ministry is looking at a locale for potential forestry operations, Eric’s role is to determine which traditional First Nations territories overlap with the terrain.
“It’s my job to figure out which First Nations may be impacted by a proposed development or operation and then reach out and engage with these nations,” Eric explains. The process can be challenging, especially when a resource decision involves engaging simultaneously with multiple First Nations. In these cases, the importance of understanding existing agreements between the government and individual First Nations comes into play. “These agreements help guide how we engage with First Nations,” he says. “We want to ensure Aboriginal interests are protected through these processes and throughout time. This is done through direct engagement with the affected First Nations, working with licensees, sharing information and proposing mitigation strategies to help address concerns.”
At the same time as he’s working full time, Eric is working toward his RPF designation, for which he needs a few more courses and some on-the-job training. In his pre-RPF state, he’s in the PEA as a Licensed Science Officer Level 1, in a position considered “under-implemented.” Once he achieves his RPF, he’ll be keeping his eye on professional positions within the PEA.
The prospect of joining the PEA played a role in influencing his son’s career path, adds Mark, who has been a shop steward for the last five years.
“I’ve passed on to Eric a lot of the benefits of being in the PEA,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons he took this temporary assignment (as a First Nations relations forester), to get into a professional position.”
The advantages Mark lists include enhanced work-life balance, compensation for overtime work, clear communication and strong support for PEA members. And, he adds, “When you’re in a PEA position, it’s a designated professional position; you get to practice in the field you’re trained in.”
After Eric gets his RPF designation, he anticipates job options will open up for him, and he’ll have a better idea of what direction he’d like his career to go in—and where he’d like to live. Though he loves Powell River, he’d consider relocations for the right role. “It depends what area of forestry I end up wanting to go into and where the positions are,” he says.
In the meantime, father and son enjoy working near each other, playing hockey together and taking advantage of the outdoor activities their hometown offers. When they leave work, Mark frequently on foot, Eric by bike, they catch a glimpse of the ocean and the good memories it holds for their family—boating, scuba diving, hockey and fishing.
“When my wife and I got to Powell River, the plan was to be here for a couple years, advance and move on,” Mark remembers. “We totally changed our minds. We said, ‘we love this place; we’re not leaving.’ It’s the place we want to live.”
Father and son list off the things they love about Powell River: the great outdoors, the ocean, the size, the amenities, the walkability. Says Mark, “It makes you love going to work.”