This week we asked the North Island’s three MLA candidates:
1. What is your party’s policy or plan for log exports?
2. How does your party’s forestry policy benefit companies, workers and the environment, specifically for the North Island?
An NDP government will invest significantly to help grow the forest industry and improve the health of B.C. forests. The plan will see a $100-million increase annually, phased in over five years.
We will work in partnership with industry to identify new markets and increase exports. The goal will be to grow global markets and also increase the value of harvested timber through reducing raw log exports and promoting value-added industries in B.C., to process some of that timber rather than exporting jobs with the raw logs.
This would provide new jobs and benefit the economies of Campbell River, Port McNeill and other forestry-based communities.
The B.C. Liberals have badly mismanaged B.C.’s trillion-dollar forest asset; in February 2012, the Auditor General issued a scathing rebuke, saying it is leading to lower timber supply and less species diversity. Yet, the 2013 Liberal budget cut $35-million from forest health, which includes re-planting and inventory management.
The NDP will invest to improve the health of B.C.’s forest base. A priority will be updating forest inventories; precise knowledge of what timber is available is essential to sustainable harvesting.
Other initiatives include doubling the seedlings planted on Crown land and a renewed emphasis on land-use planning at the regional and local levels.
The forest industry will also benefit from our plan to invest in apprenticeships and skills training.
This strategy is the NDP’s commitment to a competitive, profitable and sustainable forest industry that provides well-paying jobs in our forest dependent communities on the North Island.
B.C.’s mills are always the preferred destination for our timber and together we produce world-class value-added forest products.
However, log exports are the reality of staying competitive in today’s timber market and they provide a key component to keeping workers employed in our local forest sector.
While the NDP refuses to accept and understand these facts, today’s BC Liberals are committed to an approach that meets the needs of both our mills and our economy:
- Work with the coastal forest industry to balance the needs of those in the industry.
- Co-sponsor with the forest industry annual trade missions to Asia to ensure continued export lumber growth in these established and emerging markets.
- Increasing lumber demand will drive log prices into a competitive range where they will more naturally flow to B.C. mills.
- Direct B.C. Timber Sales to identify more wood for local sawmills without compromising our obligations under international trade agreements.
We have modernized B.C.’s forest policy, moving away from the broken and over-regulated policies that we inherited from the NDP.
The B.C. Liberal’s forest policy is an integrated platform that ensures B.C.’s forest companies stay competitive globally, and that workers stay employed by:
- Expanding and diversify lumber demand to create a more robust market, providing the foundation for investment in mills and logging equipment.
- Providing training for those areas where skills are needed.
I do not like to see barges going by in Discovery Passage loaded with logs for export.
During my campaign, however, I have learned from constituents that a premium price is paid for logs for export. These same logs, if delivered to our mills for the dimension lumber market, are valued by that market at a much lower price.
I also learned that it was mainly the sale of logs for export that kept our forestry industry active in recent years.
One forestry policy of the B.C. Conservative Party is to maintain access to our foreign markets by restoring the capability of the B.C. Forest Service to manage this renewable resource. Another forestry policy of ours is to develop diversified markets for B.C.’s forest products.
The B.C. Conservative Party has eight forestry policies as part of its 39 natural resources policies. Our general direction is to promote the responsible utilization of our abundant natural resources.
I do not know which specific companies will benefit, but I hope all of them will. Our intent is to support the coastal forestry industry in the North Island by investing in forest research and restoring established forest management procedures. North Island communities are fortunate that forestry is coming back to life.
We will facilitate its continued growth. Workers will benefit from increased forestry apprenticeships and high wage forestry jobs.
The environment will benefit from responsible decisions made with the goal of protecting the land base in perpetuity. We believe our forests should be managed for the greatest benefit of all citizens of British Columbia.