RDEK hears concerns on forestry policies

Group representing forestry mills in the B.C. Interior presents to regional board.

A group representing independent mill operators in the B.C. Interior gave a presentation to RDEK board members, asking for support in getting the provincial government to revisit timber allocation policies.

Representing 12 operations in 11 communities, Brian Simpson, speaking for the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association, asked the RDEK to pass a motion in support of the group’s campaign.

Simpson said that there were major forest policies changes in 2004 delinking tenures from manufacturing facilities, which have had some consequences on the industry.

“As a result of that, we have seen significant reductions in our provinces manufacturing facilities and the industry has consolidated significantly, which was by design,” Simpson said.

“But I think there was an understanding that we wouldn’t allow it to go too far, in other words, having four or five big fish in the sea controlling the vast majority of the resource.”

The crux of Simpson’s presentation was ensuring that the right logs get to the right mills in order to maximize value-added products.

“It’s not that we need one or the other in this province with respect to commodity sawmills and high-value product facilities — we need both,” Simpson said. “We need to ensure we maintain a healthy mix of both, because there are certain parts of every log and every piece out there that simply can’t be turned into a high-value product.

“It’s rightful place is to be turned into a two-by-four or two-by-six and what we’re talking about is trying to strike a better balance than what we see is currently happening.”

RDEK board chair Rob Gay welcomed the presentation and sympathized with their main point of contention.

“This is what these guys say: We can produce a higher value, but it takes us more people so per cubic metre, we’ll also double the amount of jobs,” Gay said.

“So for our perspective, this is good. You’re making a bigger return, so it’s good for the government, good for the company, good for the staff, and we’re creating more jobs.

“So it was hard not to support that, and what they were trying to say is they want to go to government and have government sort of change the way they do things.”