A reader comments on forestry

Reader Ken Barry today submitted a comment to an article written last July – Log exports update. It reminds of a subject that’s close to my heart and, I think, an illustration of how wrong-headed the Liberals have been in natural resource policy. Here is Ken’s contribution:

First off everyone should know there are no such thing as “FALLERS” anymore. All logging in the interior of BC is being one by mechanical harvesters.

Some of the operators don’t even carry a chainsaw with them as in the story of a couple of dimwits I personally know that had to stay in the bush overnight because of windfalls across the road and no saw to cut them away.

There are probably 200 plus logging truck loads of wood taken out of the North Thompson region every day destined for parts unknown.

We, the people, get about .25 cents for a log the size of a telephone pole.

Our forest harvesting should go back to the tenured model where the wood is processed and any value added operations done where it is harvested. The small towns in the interior have been decimated by the Lieberal grab and run sale of out forests. The remind me of a bunch of kids that have stolen a case if chocolate bars an are eating them as fast as they can before they get caught.
By the way, comparing the Lieberals to prostitutes are giving the honorable prostitutes a bad name.

There was a day when the priority of government was maximizing benefits received from public forest lands by the broad community. Pulp and paper, lumber and value added wood products were produced all over British Columbia. Direct employment in the industries created many support jobs and communities thrived.

Today, government cares little about local communities and more about financial health of the large, mostly foreign owned, resource companies that fill Liberal Party coffers. Values added in the forest industry are a fraction of what they once were because corporations can invest less capital and profit more by exporting raw logs.

Government spends its time and attention promoting natural gas production although that is an industry that has employed well less than 0.3% of the provincial workforce. By comparison, at its peak in the last 25 years, forestry provided 4.7% of direct employment in British Columbia, 15 times the contribution of oil and gas extraction in the past five years.

Categories: Forestry, Labour, oil and gas

5 replies »

  1. Same thing applies to most of Vancouver Island and the mainland coast. I'm guessing in your recent travels to Port McNeill and Alert Bay, you heard the same tales.

    If you were in Powell River in the late 50s Norm, you may remember the excitement of some locals when Mac and Bloe opened up paper mills in Harmac and Port Alberni. Many of my school mates families moved for the opportunity to really get ahead. The PR mill workers going to the new mills got immediate movement up a ladder that would have taken years, through attrition, in Powell River.

    Life was good and that was the BC way, even though it was governed by the grandaddy to the current Liberal gang. Today a lot of the Alberni townsfolk are between a rock and a hard place as they load raw logs onto ships bound for mills on the other side of the Pacific. If they don't work at that, they don't work at all. Some of the kids I schooled with are still there, retired and like the raw log loaders can't afford to live there but can't sell either. Some of the realtor signs are so old you can no longer read the phone numbers.

    What a sad commentary for a once proud province where everyone had opportunities, mainly due to the riches of OUR resources.


  2. Indeed, life was good for plenty of ordinary people. There might be two cars in the driveway, but more likely one vehicle and a boat that could be in the water 30 minutes from home. Many young people entered the mills after high school and began apprenticeship programs in the trades that soon had them qualified for lifelong careers. Youngsters grew and moved on for education and opportunity and social problems in places like Powell River and Port Alberni were surprisingly few, compared to the cities.


  3. A sad tale of our democratic principles being subverted for the economic gain of a few, mostly foreign companies and individuals. Rape and pillage of the resources must be stopped. We have lost an extrodinary amount of revenue to the Clark and Campbell governments and their so called “friends.” This is “economic subversion” at its most obscene. The”pandering” to foreign corporations, should be cause for extreme alarm, especially ones that are heavily involved in corruption. Make no mistake, this is a “sell out”, for generations to come. National or provincial pride in our economy, we've been sold out by the past 2 provincial premiers and their cohorts, not to mention the Harper Con..servatives.
    A way must be found to remove the ” economic criminals” from government, and quickly.


  4. Gordon Campbell gave the forest industry foxes the keys to the hen house. What we are seeing today is the vision of big business on how forestry should be. Maximize profits by minimizing costs at all costs. Shut down mills, squash unions (and thus the middle class), gut the Forest Service, replant as little as possible, write the regulations for the government to follow and then do your own policing. Over the years I have talked to many foresters from European countries such as Finland, Sweden, Germany and Austria and they are completely dumbfounded at how we “manage” forestry in this province. They all summarize it as killing the goose that lays the golden egg. This province greatly undervalues our timber resources to the benefit of industry much like they are going to do with LNG and exactly like what Alberta has done with the oil industry and we can see how that is working out.


  5. Indeed Norm & Hawgwash.

    Port Alberni was at one time was one of the richest towns in Canada per capita. Now it ranks at or near the bottom in many socio/economic measurables. The Mayor a while back publicly via the media asked the Province to scale back the log exports from Port A. and is actively trying to turn it into another retirement community which may be an economic uptick for a bit, but will eventually be a dead end strategy long term.

    Just before the last provincial election the logs were being pulled out of there wholesale, 25 hours per day, 8 days per week before the anticipated change in govt. which as we all know didn't happen, so businees as usual. Too many communities to count that have hit the wall. Another example is Youbou, near Lake Cowichan, laid off mill workers watching log trucks roll by. All part of the jobs and don't say no say yes plan.


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