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MLA’S CORNER: NDP needs a clear vision for future of forestry

Devastating news that Canfor announced its closing pulp mill in Prince George
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

It’s been a challenging month for B.C.’s natural resource sector.

We recently learned the devastating news that Canfor will be closing the pulp line at their mill in Prince George.

This news will impact more than 300 workers and their families and will have consequences for the surrounding community. My heart goes out to all those affected by this devastating decision.

Unfortunately, this news is just the latest blow to our resource industry. The current situation in many natural resource communities is dire, and it’s more important than ever for government to step up, provide support, and preserve these industries for years to come.

Coincidentally, last week just happened to be the 20th Annual BC Natural Resources Forum, held in Prince George.

I had the privilege of attending with many of my BC Liberal colleagues and we spent our time in meetings with industry stakeholders, hearing from those within the sector, and discussing the future of natural resource extraction in B.C.

During the conference, Premier David Eby announced funding for a new BC Manufacturing Fund.

And while any kind of support for resource communities is welcome, this fund will not address the specific needs of so many communities — particularly those impacted by the recent Canfor closure.

Additionally, the fund will not get to the heart of the issue or address the NDP policies that have added costs, created uncertainty and unnecessarily exacerbated already significant strains on forestry in our province.

Increasingly, I have the unsettling feeling that the NDP are completely focused on trying to manage the decline of forestry in B.C., rather than breathe new life into the industry.

What we really need is a clear vision for the future of forestry as a sustainable, vibrant, and economically viable sector — and forestry-dependent communities will remain in crisis until government can deliver this kind of leadership.

Lorne Doerkson is the BC LIberal MLA for Caiboo Chilcotin