New Democrat Forestry Committee Begins Tour With Stops on Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast Beginning Thursday
VICTORIA –As raw log exports continue to skyrocket, the opposition New Democrats are calling for more strategies to ensure that B.C. resources create jobs in B.C.
Data released last week show that raw log exports went up by 58 per cent between 2010 and 2011, with the bulk of the increase going to feed mills in China. More than 40 per cent of logs from the coast in 2011 were exported.
“If you put all the logs that were exported just last year on trucks and lined them up, it would stretch end-to-end from B.C.’s coast all the way to Thunder Bay,” said New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald. “We have a premier who claims to want to create jobs, but exporting raw logs costs jobs in B.C.
“There clearly needs to be more effort put into ensuring that more logs are processed in British Columbia and fewer are simply shipped overseas. It’s obvious that work won’t be done by the B.C. Liberals.”
Macdonald, along with deputy critic Bill Routley, Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali and North Island MLA Claire Trevena, will be embarking on a forestry tour beginning this week to discuss proposals to reduce raw log exports, get more value from our forests and stabilize an industry abandoned by the B.C. Liberals.
Since 2001, more than 70 mills have closed and the forest industry has shed more than 35,000 full-time, family-supporting jobs.
“The starting point is that B.C. logs should create B.C. jobs,” said Macdonald. “We know that mismanagement by the Liberals has left the industry and the forested landbase in terrible shape, and we know there are no quick fixes.
“But we don’t accept the repeated line from a succession of Liberal ministers that there’s nothing to be done. Yes, it’s a big challenge, but it’s a challenge that’s necessary to face if we are to support the economies of forest-dependent communities.”
The tour will begin this week with stops on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast beginning Thursday. The four MLAs – who comprise the opposition caucus’ forestry committee – will meet with industry, labour, local government representatives and other stakeholders in Chemainus, Nanaimo, Duncan, Sechelt, Powell River, Port Alberni, Comox and Campbell River. The tour will be joined by local MLAs. Throughout the next four months, the committee will travel to the lower mainland, southern Interior, Kootenays, central Interior and the north.
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe that B.C. logs should support B.C. jobs as part of a forest strategy that respects First Nations, environmental and local needs.