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

Two overdose deaths in Nelson over the weekend

Police warn that much of the current drug supply in the city may be dangerous

Cottonwood Lake Society announces $15,000 in new funding

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club and Royal Bank of Canada have chipped in

Nelson and RDCK both eyeing waste wood to produce energy

Nelson’s five-year-old business plan will resurface at council table this summer

Investigation ongoing into death of Warfield woman

West Kootenay Traffic Services and BC Coroners Service working on the case

Castlegar students say thanks to local RCMP

Robson Community School students show up for RCMP Appreciation Day

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Budget 2020: B.C. unveils new grant for students, phases out debt-relief program

For the first time, diploma, certificate students qualify for yearly post-secondary grant

2020 Budget: ICBC shortfall continues ahead of new rate-reduction plan

ICBC operating with $91-million deficit for 2019-2020 fiscal year

Budget 2020: B.C. NDP taps top tax bracket for more revenue

Minimum wage set to pass $15 an hour by 2021

Budget 2020: Not much new for B.C.’s struggling forest industry

Focus on wood waste utilization, efficiency, ministry budget cut

Skull reconstruction gives new insight into unknown man found in B.C. cemetery

RCMP released a 3-D skull reconstruction of a man who was found dead on July 2, 1998

Forest industry supporters and convoy arrive at B.C. legislature in Victoria

Rally delivers petition in favour of ‘working forests’

Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

Eagles stricken after eating flesh of euthanized animal at Nanaimo Regional Landfill

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Most Read