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News & Policy

June 20, 2016

Community Perspectives on the BC Coastal Forest Industry

Linking Communities and Provincial Decision-Makers
By acting as a vital link between communities and the province and providing hands-on advice to government, industry and community leaders, the TLA helps to create workable solutions that address the challenges facing today’s forest industry. To this end, the TLA undertook a follow-up study to the one it conducted in 2004 to measure the pulse and perspectives of our coastal communities.
As in our previous study, community leaders were surveyed because we wanted to see what impact the massive forest policy changes that took place over the last decade had on the viability of the communities they represent. A total of 27 coastal BC communities responded (three more than in 2004), including many where forestry has the greatest local economic impact.
Our 2004 survey was the first ever to gather opinions related to the changing forest industry from leaders in the communities where TLA members live and work. In our follow up, we have collated these unique perspectives into this report, comparing responses with previous ones so we can benchmark how the changing forest industry has affected the sustainability of our sector and our communities.
This report is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather identifies forestry related issues of concern to coastal community leaders today. All community leaders contacted were appreciative of the opportunity to exchange views with an organization dedicated to supporting community-based business.

Community Perspectives on the BC Coastal Forest Industry - Summary

Press Release

June 20, 2016, Vancouver - Community leaders are not as optimistic as they once were about the coastal forest industry, and most feel the industry is in worse shape now than it was just over a decade ago. Not surprisingly, mayors are concerned about job loss and the economic impact on coastal towns and cities. These are just a few of the findings from an extensive study measuring the pulse  and perspectives of coastal communities undertaken by The Truck Loggers Association, which represents independent timber harvesting contractors working on BC’s coast.  

“Contractors are the economic backbone of many rural communities,” explained TLA Executive Director David Elstone. “Since our last survey, more than 25 timber harvesting contractors have had to seek insolvency protection in communities throughout coastal BC.”

Communities Perspectives on the BC Coastal Forest Industry reports on the outcome of two surveys conducted by the TLA, one in 2004 and the other in 2015, benchmarking changes in attitude and expectation. The 27 community leaders who responded to our survey are quick to acknowledge the importance of forestry to their local economies and some see a recent market recovery in the coastal forest industry bringing hope back to their communities. 

“Campbell River certainly has been adversely impacted…with the loss of the TimberWest sawmill and the Catalyst pulp mill. We see that [industry] starting to come back and we’re certainly welcoming it," commented Andy Adams, Mayor of Campbell River.

Other findings released in the report are:
  • 62% of community leaders show guarded support for log exports today as compared to 60% in the past. 
  • There is even stronger support for the working forest with 86% of community leaders supporting the concept compared to 80% in 2004. 
  • Nearly 30% of the mayors we reached out to think their communities were impacted by the creation of parks and protected areas, some positively, some negatively.
  • There is strong support for First Nations involvement in the coastal forest sector, which has generated new opportunity in business and employment since our last survey. 
  • Community leaders continue to recognize the need to improve the image of the forest industry in order to attract young people to fill the projected 4,700 job openings in the coastal industry between now and 2022.
There is also consensus that more needs to be done. The TLA’s study indicates community leaders are frequently unsure of the province’s efforts to improve forest practices and policies, and even when they are aware they often have difficulty being heard. The TLA is committed to expanding its reach by sharing its unique community perspective with the provincial government to address the concerns expressed by its member companies and these communities.

“More than half of our community leaders are still optimistic about the future of forestry in the face of all the adversity the coastal forest industry has withstood over the past few decades,” pointed out David Elstone, TLA Executive Director. “We stand with them and will work to ensure the working forest and the industry it supports will continue to create jobs for local communities.”

June 14, 2016

Truck loggers glad to see cutblock auction go ahead

Truck loggers glad to see cutblock auction go ahead
Coast Reporter, June 10, 2016
By Sean Eckford
A BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cutblock auction that drew opposition from conservation groups and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) closed as scheduled June 3.
There’s no word yet on which company has been awarded the logging rights for A87125, on the slopes of Mount Elphinstone, or when harvesting could begin.
But a group representing the province’s independent timber harvesters is happy the auction went ahead, and says it’s a better move for the future of the forest.
David Elstone, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA), said having access to BCTS cutblocks is vital for their members, and the local economy.
“Resource development generates economic activity that gets fed back into the provincial economy, and our local economy,” he said. “We’re not Whistler, where you have a massive tourism industry that survives year around. I think you need to have resource development of this nature as part of your diversity of your community to allow people to live, and work and play in your community.”

June 10, 2016

Vancouver Island growing away from old growth logging?

Vancouver Island growing away from old growth logging?
Nanaimo News Bulletin, June 9, 2016
By John McKinley

Hager wants to make it clear: the B.C. chamber did not endorse an old-growth logging ban, what it endorsed was protection for those old growth stands that generate more economic benefits for communities if they are left standing.
But the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities went a step beyond that in April when members voted to ask the provincial government to amend the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect all of Vancouver Island's remaining old growth forest on provincial Crown land.
According to David Elstone, executive director of Truck Loggers Association, a ban on old growth logging would devastate the industry.
Elstone was caught off guard by both motions and unclear why there has been a shift in thinking from organizations that have traditionally been in the industry’s corner.
“In general, I am concerned about the tone and the concept. Don’t know if all the facts are being drawn forward,” Elstone said. “I don’t want to fall back on being alarmist, but if you suddenly turn that off there doesn’t take much imagination to see the impact.”
Rick Jeffery, president and CEO of Coast Forest Products Association, agreed and was concerned both the AVICC and the B.C. chamber may have made decisions in absence of all the facts.
“I have no idea on what basis they are making these claims. I just don’t,” he said. “I was surprised they didn’t ask us.
“Our take-home message is that we have to sit down and talk. We will bring facts and figures.”
One message Jeffery wants to get across is that forestry and conservation already co-exist in local forests. Another is that 55 per cent of the old growth on the B.C. coast is already protected, something he says will increase over time due to conservation practices in the unprotected areas.
“Old growth is going to be here forever,” he said. “People don’t understand that.”
Elstone said 45 per cent of the coastal harvest comes from old growth trees. Forestry accounts for 38,000 direct jobs on the Island and the neighbouring coast, and 61,000 across the province.

May 30, 2016

Out of work Alberni loggers worried about losing medical benefits

Out of work Alberni loggers worried about losing medical benefits
Chek News, May 209, 2016 

Bruce Stelmacker has had lots of time for gardening this spring.
He’s one of about 125 workers who have been off the job since Christmas because of a dispute between his employer Island Pacific Logging and Western Forest Products.
“We don’t know how long this is going on. We have no idea” lamented Stelmacker when  CHEK News visited his Port Alberni home for an interview Sunday.
The dispute is over the rate Island Pacific Logging should be paid by WFP and has left 232,000 hectares of land on the island between Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Lake Cowichan quiet.
“You try to cope with it as best you can. Some of us are able to depend on our personal lines of credit and to get by. We’re selling things. People are selling their cars, their boats. I’m going to sell my truck and my canoe to try to keep some cash coming in” said Stelmacker.

May 26, 2016

Stephen Hume: Contract dispute leaves prime timber to rot

Stephen Hume: Contract dispute leaves prime timber to rot
Vancouver Sun, May 25, 2016
...Meanwhile, the Truck Logger’s Association, representing over 450 independent forest contractors and their suppliers, observes that the province enabled concentration of ownership of forest licences more than a decade ago.
Has this policy unintentionally created an unequal playing field for the small contractors who negotiate operating rates with the fewer, bigger companies holding consolidated timber rights?
Since 2013, the truck loggers point out, more than 25 contractors have sought insolvency protection or been forced into bankruptcy and 10 went to mediation or arbitration when they couldn’t negotiate better rates.
Such disputes between the immense companies that control much of coastal B.C.’s public timber harvest and struggling independent contractors signal a forest sector malaise that deserves the province’s attention, the truck loggers warn.
Otherwise, expect to see more felled but unharvested logs like those in TFL 44, dwindling of stumpage revenues to the public purse, more idled forest workers like those in Port Alberni and yet more economic fallout as once-thriving forestry communities are rendered unsustainable.

May 19, 2016

Logging dispute keeps 120 workers off the job in Port Alberni

Rate dispute between Western Forest Products and Island Pacific Logging keeps workers at home and logs on the ground.
“We’re going to have a long dry summer, I mean just look, it’s a fire waiting to happen.”
That was how NDP MLA Scott Fraser described what he was seeing as he toured a cut block between Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan Wednesday.
It is where massive, valuable logs have been sitting untouched for up to two years in some places in tenures held by Western Forest Products.
“It’s rotting. It’s a fire hazard in what could be another bad fire season and there’s over a hundred workers who should be at work and they’re not so it’s impacting the local economy,” Fraser told CHEK News....

Chek News, Posted By: Dean Stoltzon: May 18, 2016