The recent wave of mill closures across the B.C. interior is no surprise. After years of increased harvesting needed to salvage pine beetle trees, it was only a matter of time before log supply would become constrained. What is surprising is that along B.C.’s coast, where forestry carries on as normal, raw logs continue to be exported to oversea mills.
While mills in Smithers and Houston are having a harder time sourcing logs, timber is being exported from forest licences in the west. Hundreds of loads a day are trucked out of forests in the Hazeltons, Skeena and Nass for overseas shipment. Even in the Minister of Forests own riding, logs are being exported as mills across the Province struggle with supply.
With dwindling lumber production in the interior, other parts of the industry will soon start to experience the knock down effects. Sawmill by-products such as wood chips and sawdust are becoming scarcer, making it more expensive for pulpmills and pellet plants to operate. Keeping more logs here in BC for our own mills needs to be part of the long term solution.
From a forest minister who says he wants to get maximum value out of our timber, Doug Donaldson’s first step must be ending raw log exports. Without government action, our logs will continue to supply oversea mills at the expense of B.C. jobs.