The future of the forest industry questioned

Bob Simpson is calling on the provincial government to begin discussing the future of forestry.

Independent MLA Bob Simpson is calling on the provincial government to begin discussing the future of forestry in communities that are dependent on the forest industry.

It’s not a new request, he says, but one that’s been intensified after Simpson read a confidential draft of a mid-term timber supply report prepared for the minister and deputy minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, dated Feb. 29, 2012.

The report was placed on the ministry’s website and then removed, Simpson says.

The report states there is about 10 years of timber supply, but that most of the timber is pine that has been dead for five to 10 years. Under current lumber market conditions, it is uneconomical to harvest dead pine located at long-haul distances from the mills. And that licensees have indicated that the economic supply of dead pine varies from 1.5 years in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area (TSA) to about five years in the Prince George TSA.

“That’s the critical factor. What’s happened is we have all these timber supply assessments and allowable cut reviews and Williams Lake’s just going through its TSA assessment and they’re hoping to have a new AAC in the fall,” Simpson says, adding that all that does is look at timber that’s available for harvesting.

“It doesn’t put this lens on it, which is that you may have that timber available for harvesting, but in the current economic conditions can the mills afford to go get it? No, they can’t.”

In the Williams Lake area, Simpson is hearing that the timber supply is going to run out in two or three years, or at the most within five years.

The report, Simpson explains, is from a larger technical study that was done by ministry and industry foresters that was given to government in November 2011.

“I have two agendas in this. The government since August for Quesnel and since November for Williams Lake has known that we do not have a lot of time left before we are going to start to see significant mill closures if current market conditions continue and if current land-use plans are maintained.”

At question period on April 17, Simpson stood up and asked when the conversation is going to begin with communities about what this looks like.

“In the report the government is saying there may be an opportunity to save some jobs and to get more commercially viable timber to mills if we are willing to log in areas that are currently set aside for other values. But that’s a conversation that the government’s admitted as of yesterday that they have to consult with the public on this,” Simpson says.

Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell said there will be consultation, and work is continuing to determine whether the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake can be rebuilt and supplied following an explosion and fire that destroyed it in January.

The report discusses options including the relaxing of cutting restrictions on view corridors and old-growth areas, as well as shifting available timber supply from the Prince George and Williams Lake areas to the Quesnel and Burns Lake area.

— With files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

Drivers continue to go through rough areas on Highway 20 where repairs have been made to address areas impacted by a historical slide. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Highway 20, Dog Creek Road repairs won’t be completed until later this summer

Geotechnical and hydrotechnical investigation continues

Mackey Pierce stands with two of the four paintings she has in the Cariboo Art Society exhibit at the Station House Gallery. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Art Society member exhibit June show at Station House Gallery

Title ‘This and That’, the show reflects the art of 11 members

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

(Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lakecity Secondary School returns to semester system this fall

The quarterly system was in place this past year

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read