A bleak picture of the forest industry in northern B.C.

John Rustad has recently spoken about current challenges

John Rustad has recently spoken about the challenges that the forest products industry is currently facing in northern B.C.

The MLA for Nechako Lakes painted a bleak picture of the industry, mentioning challenges associated with the softwood lumber agreement, annual allowable cut reductions, spruce beetle and duties imposed by the U.S.

“There’s no real opportunity in my mind to see a softwood lumber deal any time soon,” he said during a recent event. “It looks to me that it’s going to be between three to five years before we get to another softwood lumber deal.”

The 2006 softwood lumber agreement, which provided stability and predictability for industry on both sides of the border, expired on Oct. 12, 2015.

“I’d like to be an optimist on it, but the reality is that the U.S. Lumber Coalition… what they’re asking is completely unrealistic,” he continued.

“When we [B.C. Liberals] were still in government, we were really close to being able to reach a deal between Canada and the U.S., and we took the framework of that deal to [Canadian] producers. The U.S. took the [same] framework to the U.S. Lumber Coalition and they just rejected it. So there haven’t been any substantial negotiations since August between Canada and the U.S.”

“We’re gonna have to fight this in court, go through a process, win, which we always have, to get them [U.S. Lumber Coalition] to the table to do it together.”

High lumber prices offsetting impacts

According to Rustad, high lumber prices are helping offset many of the impacts that the Canadian forest products industry is facing.

“Quite frankly, with lumber prices as high as they are, if we can get tariffs down to 15 per cent, with free access to the United States, I think that’s good enough,” he said. “I don’t like the fact that there are tariffs at all, but maybe that’s good enough.”

Last November the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its final determination of duties of 20.83 per cent to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.

“With lumber prices high, it will not be very impactful; but if lumber prices start dropping off, it will become a much more serious issue.”

Annual allowable cut reductions

Another pressing issue that the forest products industry is facing is the reduction in annual allowable cut (AAC).

“We’ve seen the first drop, and we’ll see another one in 2020. That will impact of number of mills in the region,” said Rustad. “It’s gonna create some challenges in our communities.”

“Where the impacts will fall it’s hard to say, but there will be some impacts for sure,” said Rustad.

Spruce beetle growing faster than expected

Rustad said the spruce beetle, a forest pest that is native to spruce forests and attacks the inner bark of these trees, is a growing concern in British Columbia.

“That is a problem that’s growing way faster than I thought,” he said. “The magnitude of the problem wasn’t well known in previous years.”

According to the province’s latest areal overview survey, the total infested area in B.C. has nearly doubled this year – from 283,083 hectares in 2016 to 501,873 hectares in 2017.

While the situation has gotten worse in the Lakes and Prince George timber supply areas (TSA), the Morice TSA has remained fairly stable. Over 2900 hectares were affected in 2017 – similar to 2014.

“What we need to do is have strategies and try to utilize it [timber supply] as much as possible and work our way through it.”

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Houston Community Hall holds an all Candidates meeting.

The all Candidates meeting happened on October third, ten candidates are running… Continue reading

Remembering Lejac residential school

Lejac residential school survivor walks in honour of survivors and in memory of those who did not

Houston candidates share top priorities

Councillors were asked about Houston’s biggest challenges

Canfor sawmill workers ready to strike in Houston

We had the assistance of a mediator and we didn’t make any headway: Union

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Carole James avoids questions on B.C.’s payroll tax (with video)

Green MLA Adam Olsen cites huge tax increase for local business

Most Read