B.C. premier says it’s time to add value to province’s forestry products

Instead, the focus needs to be on the renewable resource over the long term, Horgan said

A downturn in B.C’s lumber industry is a chance to refocus on getting more money out of provincial forests, Premier John Horgan said Friday.

He told hundreds of delegates at the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities that the forest industry has focused for too long on sending raw logs offshore without adding value.

Dozens of forest companies have closed or curtailed operations in B.C. over what Horgan said is dwindling supply and an operating model that moves timber to market without tending to a renewable resource.

ALSO READ: Rural grant program will be back next year, John Horgan vows

He said the province has less fibre because of fires, pine beetle infestations and an operations model that gets timber cut and to market as fast as possible.

Instead, the focus needs to be on the renewable resource over the long term, Horgan said.

“That means focusing on getting more money out of our forests, not more wood out of our forests.”

Earlier on Friday, convention delegates approved a motion asking the province to reconsider its decision to transfer $25 million in funding from an economic development program for rural communities to a support program for forest workers.

WATCH: Logging truck convoy stalls traffic in downtown Vancouver to protest job losses

The government announced a $69 million aid program last week for communities and workers hurt by the industry downturn.

Horgan said the funding diversion is not a cut and is intended to help people and communities in difficulty.

“We are feeling pain in the communities, we need to band together and that’s why we curtailed the rural development fund so we can focus direction on people who are in distress,” he said.

The B.C. government’s website says the Rural Dividend Program has been suspended for the year, not cancelled. The fund supports small and Indigenous communities in diversifying their economies.

Horgan told the crowd the money would be reinstated as the province monitors the forestry aid program.

During a news conference after his speech, Horgan said the fund is oversubscribed and many applicants could be more appropriately served through other portfolios. Applicants for water treatment funding for example could be better served through major infrastructure investment budgets, he said.

“We’re trying to marry up some of those applicants with more appropriate funds that are cost shared with the federal government as well,” he said.

The premier said he met recently with five CEOs of the major forest companies in B.C. and they had a candid discussion.

“It’s hard for me to listen to companies say they’re in distress when they’re making multimillion-dollar investments in the United States and Europe and around the world.”

He said he wants the forest industry to be successful.

“It’s not about reducing their ability, it’s about opening opportunities for markets and that’s why I’m so excited about cross-laminated timber,” he said, referring to wood product that can be used for construction of highrise buildings.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Northern Health ready for COVID-19 surge

Health authority confident with inventory of ventilators

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

MP for Cariboo-Prince George writes a letter to residents amidst COVID-19

‘Partisan politics have no place in a pandemic,’ writes MP Todd Doherty

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Sinclar Group curtailing all sawmill operations temporarily

Nechako Lumber, Apollo Forest Products and Lakeland Mills to be curtailed for three weeks starting April 5.

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read