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Special Series: On The Island Explores Vancouver Island's Forest Industry

Mill Towns is a weeklong series that explores the towns that have persevered through years of decline in the forest industry.

“Mill Towns” airs March 11 to 15 on CBC Radio One

James Furney of Port McNeill at a steam donkey once used by the forest industry. (Megan Thomas/CBC)
 

Forestry on Vancouver Island is a complex industry, firmly planted in government policy. The B.C. government has announced changes are coming to some of those policies to help rebuild the coastal forest sector. These changes include everything from revised fees on raw log exports, to how much fibre can be left behind in the bush, and plans for more First Nations involvement.

Tune in to On The Island at 7:10 a.m. PT, March 11 - 15 for Mill Towns -- a weeklong series that explores the towns that have persevered through years of decline in the forest industry. Join CBC Victoria's Megan Thomas as she delves into the government policy changes and what it means for Vancouver Island's forest industry.

(Megan Thomas/CBC)

March 11: Port Alberni​ 

There is optimism for new forestry jobs in Port Alberni owing to a $70 million investment in a new sawmill. It's the kind of investment that hasn't been seen in years and some hope a focus on smaller logs and high value products is the future.

March 12: Port Alice

A town in limbo. It's looking increasingly like the 400 jobs at the pulp mill in Port Alice are not coming back, despite provincial changes that could help provide a more stable fibre supply. Local officials are pushing for the ability to expand a community forest that is now helping to pay some of the town's bills.

March 13: Port McNeill

Much of the wood that supplies mills on Vancouver Island is harvested in Port McNeill. The looming changes could affect the economics of harvesting -- something that has those who make their living in the forest industry worried.  

March 14: Gold River

The road trip concludes in Gold River, a town that lost its pulp and paper mill 20 years ago. Forestry is still providing jobs, but without the mill as a key employer, it's been a challenge to reinvent the economy.

March 15: Vancouver Island

This last instalment of the series will feature a panel discussion on the future of forestry on Vancouver Island.

Listen to On The Island with Gregor Craigie weekday mornings on CBC Radio One.