Clark’s conundrum confuses loggers

Here’s a puzzler. Last week, Premier Christy Clark was promising coastal truck loggers she won’t kill jobs by banning raw log exports

Here’s a puzzler. Last week, Premier Christy Clark was promising coastal truck loggers she won’t kill jobs by banning raw log exports. Next week, Jobs Minister Pat Bell will be in Campbell River almost certainly discussing the possibility of building a new sawmill that would need many of those logs currently being shipped to Asia.

The premier set the stage for a raw-boned coastal resource policy dust up when she buttered up members of the coastal Truck Loggers Association in an effort to differentiate herself, the jobs protector, from NDP leader Adrian Dix, the jobs killer.

“Yes, we would all like to get more value out of B.C. wood. But we are not going to get there by supporting Adrian Dix’s latest position on log exports. We are not going to get there by banning them,” Clark told truck logger conventioneers. “Why does Adrian Dix seem so intent on throwing people out of work?”

Clark exaggerated just a tad. Dix certainly wants to curtail the shipment of unprocessed logs out of B.C. and the majority of British Columbians agree with him. But a total ban is not on the NDP’s agenda. Dix will impose new taxes on log exports to give sawmills an opportunity to get access to wood again.

On cue, Truck Loggers Association executive director David Lewis said any curtailment of exports will mean lost jobs. “In the past year log exports have been a huge benefit to the province. The majority of our coastal timber is uneconomic to harvest if we are selling it to domestic buyers.”

In 2010, log exports increased by more than 50 per cent with more sticks shipped to China than in the previous 20 years combined. In the first three months of 2011 coastal operators exported 40 per cent of logs harvested.

The battle goes back and forth. Arnold Bercov, president of Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada, Local 8, says an additional 2,400 jobs could have been created on Vancouver Island if the logs sent overseas were processed here.

Private Forest Landowners’ Association executive director Rod Bealing says raw log exports make sense because the domestic market for logs has virtually collapsed and B.C.’s mills are uncompetitive.

While the premier is pledging that log exports will continue, her jobs minister, a former Prince George timber executive, does not appear to be buying into the industry premise that coast sawmills can’t compete.

This coming Monday, Bell will be in Campbell River to convene a B.C. Jobs Plan regional economic investment pilot project forum. Setting the stage for the forum in December, Bell said, “I have believed for some time that there is the potential for a high-speed second-growth sawmill somewhere on central or northern Vancouver Island. I think it will be a very attractive place to build a new sawmill and create that value.”

Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway says, “it’s a great idea and I’m glad he’s thinking that way.”

However, the mayor cautions that most of the available island timber is already spoken for. “Western and TimberWest and all the small logging operations have got it all wrapped up. Perhaps the minister knows of a secret supply of timber?”

Just maybe Bell’s secret supply is a good chunk of the raw product the premier wants to keep shipping out unprocessed. M

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

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

Most Read