(L-R) Granisle village councillor Tom Liversidge and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad attend a council meeting in Granisle on Oct. 16. Rustad spoke to the meeting about the difficulties facing forestry in the Interior. (Blair McBride photo)

Forestry renewal bid engagement ends

The provincial government’s Interior forest sector renewal engagement period has ended and a report with its findings will be released later in the year.

The initiative was announced in the spring and from July 18 until Oct. 11 the government gathered feedback from forestry companies, First Nations and others on how forestry should be conducted in the future.

Input was received online and through several in-person sessions held in communities across the Interior. The session in Burns Lake was held on July 25. Reactions from attendees were mixed.

LOOK BACK: Burns Lake hosts Forest Sector Renewal session

”A What We Heard report on feedback received through the Interior Forest Policy process is expected to be released towards the end of 2019,” as Dawn Makarowski, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) told Black Press.

The ideas received during the engagement period will be considered for how they fit into four government objectives: a globally competitive forest sector; resilient communities and workforce; reconciliation with Indigenous communities; and sustainable forest management.

“Further policy direction based on the feedback is anticipated to start in spring 2020,” Makarowski added.

Commenting on the renewal initiative while at a village meeting in Granisle on Oct. 16, Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said that it will be interesting to see what comes out of the feedback considering the breadth of ideas gathered.

“My concern is this: there is no question that we need some change [in forestry]. The government continues to talk about how we need value added products. we have to have a product to add value to, which means you need a primary industry. That’s what’s missing from a lot of the conversation.”

Rustad compared the possible outcome of the Interior renewal push with the Coast forestry renewal initiative, which was announced in January.

“When they did the Coastal revitalization it came out with 35 or 36 recommendations. All of them added cost. Only a couple were cost neutral to companies. If they take same approach with the Interior renewal it will only add costs and contribute to the problem, which is not good.”

“[On the Coast] to manage waste…they basically are going to charge triple stumpage for anything that is left behind. That’s going to have a significant negative consequence on the Coast. It’s going to reduce the area that companies operate in and reduce the amount of wood that’s being operated because it has driven up costs,” he said.

“I don’t know whether this revitalization process will hit the mark in terms of what I think we need to be doing for the Interior. My concern is that, given the past record it will have negative consequences given the costs structure.”

The Interior forestry industry has over the past several months faced major challenges such as permanent shutdowns of sawmills and temporary curtailments, including at the Canfor facility in Houston.

The provincial government announced a $69 million fund for workers and communities affected by the industry downturn and Quesnel, Chasm, Vavenby and Fort St. James are eligible to receive the aid.

READ MORE: B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

But frustration erupted when it was revealed that $25 million of that aid would come out of the Rural Dividend Fund, leading to the suspension of the program until 2020.

RELATED: Governments blast NDP over funds switch


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Water movement increased in Houston reservoirs

Measure in response to 2019 boil water notice

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Miscommunication led to three people turned away at pipeline checkpoint: RCMP

Mounties were installing new access procedures after checkpoint was set up for Coastal GasLink site

Pipeline at centre of B.C. conflict is creating jobs for First Nations: chief

All 20 elected band councils along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route have signed benefits agreements

Coastal GasLink makes new request to meet with First Nation pipeline opponents

President writes letter following Premier John Horgan’s comments on law needing to be followed

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Coastal GasLink repeats desire for meeting with hereditary chiefs

Coastal GasLink says they’re ready to meet with the hereditary chiefs at their convenience

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read