Premier John Horgan visits West Fraser sawmill in Quesnel on tour of B.C. Interior communities, Jan. 20, 2020. (B.C. government)

John Horgan calls for end to ‘high-grading’ B.C. forests

Premier speaks to resource industry forum in Prince George

Premier John Horgan promoted his long-term strategy for the struggling B.C. forest industry in Prince George Wednesday, saying the province has to get out of a “boom and bust economy” that rises and falls with lumber prices.

Speaking to more than 1,000 community and industry leaders at the annual B.C. Natural Resources Forum Prince George, Horgan noted his long-term strategy to increase forest jobs began this week with the first of a series of round-table meetings with community and industry representatives in Mackenzie, one of the communities hardest hit by the current downturn.

“We’re going to be in other communities, Quesnel, Vanderhoof, wherever we can go to bring people together to find a way forward in forestry,” Horgan told reporters before his speech to the forum. “Prices are starting to come up. In a boom-and-bust economy, you need to have high prices, but that’s not the beginning and the end. We need to make sure that we’re always preparing for those down times by ensuring that we’re not just harvesting to get the forest down, we’re harvesting to get jobs in communities.”

Horgan acknowledged that government stumpage on Crown timber did not keep up with the rapid fall in lumber prices in 2019, but it has been sharply reduced for 2020. He said he is attempting to move away from a long tradition of logging for volume.

RELATED: Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

RELATED: B.C. delays new wood waste penalties in coastal crisis

“It’s about a value in the British Columbia forest sector that was cultivated by Social Credit, by New Democrats, by Liberals, and that was to just harvest as much volume as you can, when you can,” Horgan said. “If we’re high-grading our forests to catch the market, that may be good for the short term, but the long-term view for the forest industry needs to be a long-term view. And that involves communities.”

The meetings were announced last spring as Horgan and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson were faced with a wave of sawmill shutdowns across the B.C. Interior, due to slumping prices, log costs and continued steep tariffs imposed by the U.S. government on Canadian softwood imports.

In December, Donaldson announced that new coastal log export fees were delayed for six months, and a program to reduce wood behind in coastal logging was also eased to reflect cost data from the industry on recovering more wood.

Logging has shut down across much of the B.C. coast and Vancouver Island, due to costs and a seven-month strike by the United Steelworkers against Western Forest Products.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campfires banned in Central Okanagan to support COVID-19 efforts

The ban follows the provincial decision to suspend open burning until April 15

West Kelowna sets up precautionary sand, sandbag stations

Sand and sandbags are now in usual lakefront locations

‘We’re working to help every Canadian’: Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier explains she is working with all levels of government amid COVID-19

Autism Awareness Day highlights challenges amid COVID-19

AutismBC regional coordinator in Kelowna discusses living with autism amid a pandemic

BREAKING: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

This is B.C.’s first community outbreak at a corrections facility

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Highway 1 closed west of Revelstoke

Due to a vehicle incident

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Domestic violence on the rise in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP see increase in domestic dispute call volumes

Couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas: Cowichan by-law

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

How well can cell phones carry COVID-19? Disinfecting may be wise

‘You want to keep it as clean as you would normally your hands’

Most Read