British Columbia

Premier Horgan wants to repair relations between B.C. forestry industry and communities

Curbing raw log exports to boost jobs in B.C.’s forestry industry has been a focus of previous provincial governments and continues to be an issue of focus for Premier John Horgan during his first year in power.

Raw log exports increased under the former B.C. Liberal government

Curbing raw log exports to boost jobs in B.C.'s forestry industry is a priority for John Horgan's NDP government. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Curbing raw log exports to boost jobs in B.C.'s forestry industry has been a focus of previous provincial governments and continues to be an issue for Premier John Horgan during his first year in power.

During last year's election campaign, Horgan said the province has lost 30,000 forestry jobs since the B.C. Liberals took power in 2001.

He said B.C.'s raw log exports have risen 120 per cent in that time, which he attributed to policy introduced by former Premier Christy Clark.

Those policies loosened export rules to allow logging companies to process wood at mills of their choice, which hurt business for local refiners, he said.

Horgan attended the annual Truck Loggers Association convention in Victoria Friday and said he wants to repair the relationship between the industry and forestry communities.

Although no plans were solidified, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the focus is on creating more jobs for the industry in B.C.

"Our focus is really about getting as many jobs as possible out of every log that comes out of the forest… It's a public resource on public land and as many people as possible should benefit from the proper management of that resource," Donaldson told All Points West host Jason D'Souza.

Local sustainability

An industry sustainability review conducted by former Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott will continue under Horgan's leadership.

The review aims to help independent timber harvesting contractors compete in the global industry so they can provide steady, well-paying jobs in B.C.'s rural communities.

"It comes down to fibre availability, or timber availability, for all those that need it," David Elstone, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association, told CBC in an interview Thursday.

"We'd like to work with the premier, with the province, to try and figure out ways to make sure we're accessing the full amount of timber volume that we're allowed to harvest… I think that would go a long way to achieving our parallel objectives of trying to make sure there's enough fibre for our domestic mills."

A review of the professional reliance model to "ensure the highest professional, technical and ethical standards are being applied to resource management in B.C." is underway as well, lead by Environment Minister George Heyman, according to the provincial government website.

"We want to make sure that the public has trust in those models and the models are working well," Donaldson said.

With files from All Points West