The City of Campbell River wants to be “front and centre” at an upcoming forestry rally in Victoria, but just what exactly that presence will look like is still in question.
At Monday night’s public meeting of city council, the city received an invitation to take part in the rally, being put on by the BC Forestry Alliance and scheduled for Feb. 18 at the Parliament Building.
Coun. Ron Kerr made a motion that “council support and attend” the rally.
“I think it’s one way that council can step up and advocate for the forest industry,” Kerr says.
Earlier on Monday, it was announced that Western Forest Products and United Steelworkers Local 1937 had agreed to terms of a tentative collective agreement, which would see the end of a prolonged strike action that kept more than 3,000 workers away from their jobs, not to mention the trickle-down effects that lack of work caused to local economies all over the coast.
But Mayor Andy Adams says he understands the rally won’t be canceled even if that agreement ratified and is in place before the 18th.
“The focus of the rally is not so much about the job action that’s been going on,” Adams says, “but about the forestry regulations that are in dire need of restructuring at the provincial level and having the conversations about how they can change for the future sustainability moving forward.”
Coun. Kermit Dahl agrees, saying he’s been “one of the ones sitting around the table organizing the rally.”
“It’s never been about the job action between the United Steelworkers and Western, it’s about the attack on the 30 per cent of our forests that are working forests,” Dahl says. “As a family and business owner that is impacted, forestry directly feeds my family and my community.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield agrees that the city should have a presence at the rally.
“If you don’t want to eat what somebody else cooks, you get in there and cook it yourself,” Cornfield says. “We need to go in there and promoting what we, as communities, think we need to make us sustainable. Not what somebody else thinks we need.”
Mayor Andy Adams says he had already shifted his schedule to be able to attend on behalf of the city, and Coun. Kerr’s motion passed unanimously – after it was agreed that “attend” meant “representatives from council” rather than everyone, as Coun. Claire Moglove said she would be unable to go – but what other Campbell River presence will be there remains to be worked out by city staff over the coming week.
“There was talk about a convoy,” Cornfield says, “and I would like to see if we can put one of our city trucks in there or charter a bus with a banner on the side of it or something. We need to make a statement if we’re going to lead on this issue and be out there front and centre. If we don’t, somebody else is going to cook up the broth.”
More information on the upcoming rally can be found by joining the BC Forestry Alliance group on Facebook.