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

Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

Vessels once transported passengers and goods along the Okanagan Valley

West Kelowna man found dead in van on Vernon road

Foul play is not suspected in death of 39-year-old found Saturday, Aug. 1

Fires ignite on Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie; Kamloops Fire Centre blazes holding

Crews working throughout region over holiday weekend to contain wildfires

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Water down at Lake Country mobile home park

Residents at Creek Run mobile home park have been without running water for more than a week

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Reported Big White wildfire dubbed ‘smoke chase’

Crews responded to the area but could not locate a fire

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Wildfire in West Kelowna’s Rose Valley grows to 3 hectares

The fire was first reported at around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 2.

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Most Read