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October 28, 2017 12:38 am

Forestry faces challenges, but has bright future

Thursday, January 21, 2016 @ 10:45 AM

Prince George, B.C.- Forestry, it’s challenges and  successes  the focus of  the Natural Resource Forum this morning.

One in  every 16 jobs in B.C. is linked to forestry,  the ratio even higher in  the  central and northern region.. Forestry provided $2.5 billion dollars in revenue to  the province,  and accounted for 35% of all commodity exports from B.C.

Yet, there are some who continue to  think that in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, forestry is a sunset industry, nothing could be further from the truth  say experts in  the  sector.

Yes there are challenges,  including  access to fibre supply   “There are too many mills chasing  too few trees” says James Gorman, Vice President of Corporate and Government Relations for  West Fraser.   Gorman says there  also needs to be  a competitive cost environment,  stable practical regulatory environment,  and  reliable transportation.    Gorman  says many  forestry companies  have  had issues finding rail  cars,  and there have been talks with the Province about  making some changes to trucking “We have looked at  9 axle trucks, which can carry more,  meaning fewer trips.  But that would require  upgrades to the roads, and some bridges to handle  the  extra load.”

Then there’s the softwood lumber agreement, which Gorman says  needs to be resolved to provide stability  and certainty.

And while other  resource  industries are experiencing   a serious downturn because of the global economic slump,  that is  helping forestry  when it comes to  recruiting  skilled labour “Some of the  downturn in other sectors has been good for forestry” says Gorman “We  have more and more folks from Alberta knocking on our doors.”

Still, Gorman   says more needs to be done to  tell the forestry story and attract  young people to the business as many who have been in this sector are  heading to  retirement .

The bottom  line?

“We are hiring” says Gorman.



Gorman can blame the selling of BC Rail to CN Rail for the shortage of rail cars. The forest industry sat on their hands, or were in support of the sale of BC Rail, and as a result we ended up with a monopoly in the rail business in North Central BC. If BC rail had been sold to the Burlington Northern Railway, or to CP Rail we would have had competition for CN Rail and a supply of rail cars.

Bigger trucks on our highways may be a solution for the forest industry, however not necessarily for the taxpayers of BC who pay for a large part of the cost of roads.

I guess the statement **There are too many mills chasing to few trees** means we will see some more mill closures in the future.

HEMP…is the Future….

How can anyone be optimistic about being employed in the forest industry with a statement like “too many mills chasing too few trees”? Why would I want to make a life in a mill town knowing full well that my job is likely to dry up in a couple of years? I know there are no guarantees in life but the forest sector is just too risky….

Sounds like beating the drum for more concessions from the unions (competitive cost environment) and the government (stable practical regulatory environment).

Have any of the big forest companies in the north made any significant investment to any of the mills in the central or northern part of the province? Seems like they are buying mills in the south and the US.

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