B.C. premier says it’s time to add value to province’s forestry products

Instead, the focus needs to be on the renewable resource over the long term, Horgan said

A downturn in B.C’s lumber industry is a chance to refocus on getting more money out of provincial forests, Premier John Horgan said Friday.

He told hundreds of delegates at the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities that the forest industry has focused for too long on sending raw logs offshore without adding value.

Dozens of forest companies have closed or curtailed operations in B.C. over what Horgan said is dwindling supply and an operating model that moves timber to market without tending to a renewable resource.

ALSO READ: Rural grant program will be back next year, John Horgan vows

He said the province has less fibre because of fires, pine beetle infestations and an operations model that gets timber cut and to market as fast as possible.

Instead, the focus needs to be on the renewable resource over the long term, Horgan said.

“That means focusing on getting more money out of our forests, not more wood out of our forests.”

Earlier on Friday, convention delegates approved a motion asking the province to reconsider its decision to transfer $25 million in funding from an economic development program for rural communities to a support program for forest workers.

WATCH: Logging truck convoy stalls traffic in downtown Vancouver to protest job losses

The government announced a $69 million aid program last week for communities and workers hurt by the industry downturn.

Horgan said the funding diversion is not a cut and is intended to help people and communities in difficulty.

“We are feeling pain in the communities, we need to band together and that’s why we curtailed the rural development fund so we can focus direction on people who are in distress,” he said.

The B.C. government’s website says the Rural Dividend Program has been suspended for the year, not cancelled. The fund supports small and Indigenous communities in diversifying their economies.

Horgan told the crowd the money would be reinstated as the province monitors the forestry aid program.

During a news conference after his speech, Horgan said the fund is oversubscribed and many applicants could be more appropriately served through other portfolios. Applicants for water treatment funding for example could be better served through major infrastructure investment budgets, he said.

“We’re trying to marry up some of those applicants with more appropriate funds that are cost shared with the federal government as well,” he said.

The premier said he met recently with five CEOs of the major forest companies in B.C. and they had a candid discussion.

“It’s hard for me to listen to companies say they’re in distress when they’re making multimillion-dollar investments in the United States and Europe and around the world.”

He said he wants the forest industry to be successful.

“It’s not about reducing their ability, it’s about opening opportunities for markets and that’s why I’m so excited about cross-laminated timber,” he said, referring to wood product that can be used for construction of highrise buildings.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Learn about bees, bears, birds and bugs at Maple Ridge farm

Event to take place at Deep Roots Family Farm

Old Pitt Meadows Fire Hall reduced to rubble

New building will be more than three times the size, and is expected to be completed by 2022

Maple Ridge movie industry almost back to “normal”

City of Maple Ridge film production liaison “swamped with productions”

Ridge Meadows RCMP announce detachment’s biggest drug, weapons and cash bust

Five month investigation resulted in large fentanyl seizure

Pitt Meadows woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

BCSPCA partners with Crime Stoppers

Many call in to the SPCA, but want to remain anonymous: Eccles

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read