Vancouver Island sawmill operation, 2009. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. delays increase to log export restrictions in COVID-19 crisis

Market slump frustrates NDP plan to revive mill employment

The B.C. government has delayed coastal log export reforms for a second time to deal with an industry slump made worse by the global market effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced June 11 that a reduced maximum size for milled timber exports that was due to take effect July 1 is delayed until Sept. 30. The regulation will reduce the definition of a “sawn-wood product” or squared-off log for export from 43 cm (17 inches) to 30.5 cm (12 inches), changing a rule that was implemented.

Restriction on export of Western red cedar and cypress is also delayed to Sept. 30. That will require cedar and cypress harvested on Crown land in the B.C. Coast region to be “fully manufactured” to be eligible for export, unless the seller or exporter obtains an exemption and pays a “fee in lieu” of manufacture to the province.

“Globally, the forest industry has been hit particularly hard by the challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the resulting market impacts,” the forests ministry said in a statement. “Delaying the Manufactured Forest Products Regulation and fee-in-lieu provides B.C. forest companies with more time to prepare and adjust their business models to the upcoming regulatory changes.”

The new fee-in-lieu of milling for the B.C. Coast has been delayed a second time, and is to come into force as of December 2020.

“It will replace the existing fee-in-lieu structure for the Coast and will expand the practice that has been in place for B.C. Timber Sales advertised in the Coast area since July 7, 2019,” the ministry said. “The new variable rate fee will be dependent on the economics of the individual stands for harvest, set for the term of the cutting permit to provide cost certainty to forest licence holders.”

RELATED: Ottawa says no to relaxing private-land log export rules

RELATED: B.C. slashes stumpage fees, eases wood waste restrictions

Log exports from private land, mainly on Vancouver Island, are regulated by the federal government. It refused to temporarily relax export rules proposed in a deal between Mosaic Forest Management and the United Steelworkers that to restart Mosaic’s logging operations from Sooke in the south to Port Alberni on central Vancouver Island.


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