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STONE – It’s time John Horgan stepped up for B.C.’s forest industry

(Image: Govt of BC)

By TODD STONE
MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson

BRITISH COLUMBIA’S FORESTRY INDUSTRY is in crisis as mills close and job losses mount due to John Horgan and the NDP’s increased taxes, red tape and growing uncertainty on B.C.’s land base. Problems are not being fixed, solutions are not being sought, and now hundreds of families are left wondering what options they have for their future.

MLA Todd Stone.

Last week came even more bad news for this struggling industry. Canfor announced that it would be commencing shift curtailments at all but one of its sawmill operations, Norbord announced an indefinite curtailment of production at their 100 Mile House mill, putting 160 jobs at risk, and Louisiana Pacific revealed the indefinite closure of its Peace Valley mill in Fort St. John, resulting in the potential loss of 190 jobs.

This news, alongside Canfor’s recent decision to permanently close the Vavenby saw mill which resulted in 172 lost jobs, is adding to the growing list of mill closures and curtailments across B.C.

As you could imagine, this is having a disastrous effect on the lives of hard-working people in the Thompson region. Jobs are disappearing, families are facing increased uncertainty about their ability to make ends meet, and the industry’s long-term competitiveness and viability is akin to an ever-growing dark cloud hanging over the heads of all British Columbians.

Under the NDP’s watch, forestry production costs have skyrocketed and we’re seeing the results of that ineptitude first-hand. Horgan’s rushed, non-consultative passage of the controversial Bill 22 this spring effectively gave the NDP government the power to make decisions previously made by privately-held forestry companies.

This bill came with a grave warning from the forestry sector that its implementation would result in the potential closure of 10 mills across B.C. Unsurprisingly Horgan did not heed that warning, and look at where we stand now.

So where is Premier Horgan during this? He’s either missing in action or wrongfully touting what he deems accomplishments by his failed forestry minister. He is certainly not doing what a premier should be doing – offering tangible actions to support the families most affected, and taking steps immediately to reduce the tax and red tape burden that he and the NDP have placed on the shoulders of the forest industry.

One solution that Horgan continues to ignore and outright obstruct is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This is a solution that will create hundreds of well-paying jobs in B.C. – largely in the rural Interior and Northern communities most impacted by the crisis in the forestry sector.

It’s a solution that will generate millions in tax revenue for essential services across the province, provide the opportunity for a much-needed fuel capacity increase that could help alleviate crippling gas prices in B.C., provide a safer alternative to the higher-risk movement of oil by rail, and effectively eliminate inter-provincial hostility between B.C. and Alberta – all in one move.

But sadly, Horgan will not end his pipeline obstruction largely due to the fact that he has to continue to pander to the three Green MLAs in B.C.’s Legislature.

It’s clear from here in Kamloops and the Thompson Valleys that it’s time John Horgan and the NDP admit they’ve made a mess of the forestry file, and have jeopardized the livelihoods of countless forestry workers and their families in the process.

It’s time Horgan steps up and takes bold action to save these forestry jobs and our forestry industry. It’s time Horgan governs for all of B.C, not just for his union and NDP insider friends in Victoria and the Lower Mainland.

Todd Stone is the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson.

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ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on STONE – It’s time John Horgan stepped up for B.C.’s forest industry

  1. Ian M MacKenzie // June 17, 2019 at 8:17 PM // Reply

    I’ll try.
    Ever since we’ve had civilizations dating back thousands of years, we’ve had a slow dwindling of forests as the massive cedar trees of Lebanon gave in to the axes of palace makers. Since the raping of the Mediterranean middle east during the time of the epic of Gilgamesh Lebanon has remained the first and classic example of deforestation leading to desertification. But we humans seldom learn from just one horrifying example, so as population increased through various succeeding civilizations which included the agricultural revolution up through the industrial revolution we axed and sawed trees down to produce farms, to build houses and cities quickly. (The old practice of building with stone was too slow for our growing population). So deforestation moved from Europe, jumped oceans to lumber across Upper Canada and dwelt for some time while it wiped out the beautiful white pines of Ontario, but slowed down at the prairies.
    Not to be outfoxed by this ancient sea bottom grassland our explorers, gold fanciers and lumber barons skirted around the continent in ships to start hacking away at the massive ancient timber of B.C.. Through successive shortsighted provincial governments who did not foresee that there was a defined end to forests when they reached tidewater we have now logged 80% of our oldest trees through clearcutting while nature and climate change is now taking care of boreal forests as well by means of bug epidemics and forest fires.
    All of those was predicted by many years ago, but greed (the worst of the sapien vices) knows no boundaries, so it seems that until we produce deserts interspersed with grasslands we in B.C. won’t be satisfied.
    So why is Vavenby lumber mill plus many others being shuttered, you may ask? Because logging and nature has run us out of trees.
    Perhaps it’s time to stop chopping them down by shutting down the logging industry, training all the fallers in planting and/or thinning, or becoming tour guides to show visitors what we had everywhere a hundred years ago by showing them the Great Bear Rain Forest and then guide them through the miles of newly planted trees that may energize a new forestry industry 80-100 years from now. That is if we change our ways immediately.
    At present we are well on the way to earning the title of Lebanon of the North.
    I doubt that Lebanon of the Mediterranean has a forest industry.

  2. Nancy Bepple // June 17, 2019 at 4:54 PM // Reply

    So glad Stone mentioned the last 2 years, but kept out that period between 2001-17 when in BC there was a closure of 62 mills (each milling at least 40 million bd ft/yr). Oh right, the BC Liberals were in power then. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/forestry/fibre-mills/2017_mill_list_report_final.pdf

  3. The only way to fix what is wrong in the forest industry is to reverse what Stone, and his Liberals started. Stop allowing the shipment of raw logs out of BC. If other countries want our wood, then they should have to buy our finished lumber product, not just take our raw logs to create jobs in their countries. Mills would reopen, and people would be put back to work.

  4. Tony Brumell // June 17, 2019 at 11:29 AM // Reply

    It’s tragic and laughable that Stone is sticking up for the very government that caused the forestry mess in the first place.Clear cuts continued, whole log (and Job )exports allowed and continues. Apertancy stopped and comunity forests and mills obliterated. Mega buisness (mostly foriegn ) allowed to close local mills and build mega mills that are running out of timber because of the Liberals forestry policies.This is the height of hypocracy. As usual.
    Apparently Mr Stone hasn’t heard of the UN climate crises and wants to continue to build oil and gas pipelines so carbon dioxide levels reache beyond critical. Don’t worry Mr Stone the scientists around the world must have it all wrong.

  5. David Goar // June 17, 2019 at 7:43 AM // Reply

    It is truly “rich” that Todd Stone should accuse anyone else of “ making a mess” of a government file. It is utterly predictable that his ultimate solution to this “ crisis “ would be the expansion of pipeline capacity by proceeding with expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and, thereby committing B.C.to infrastructure expansion in the tar sands industry for the foreseeable future.

    How can someone that lives in the Interior of B.C. not see that each summer is becoming an ever more desperate battle with wildfire?

    We should hold our so called leaders to the expectation of leading us forward, not back and into certain disaster.

  6. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/simpcw-vavenby-mill-land-transfer-1.5174900.
    I also just read the above posted article. Can someone clearly explain what’s really going on?

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