January 17, 2019 8:13 pm
Updated: January 18, 2019 5:32 am

B.C. government unveils plan to reform the province’s forestry industry

WATCH: The new plan aims to increase the amount of B.C. logs that are processed in-province. Nadia Stewart looks at what the B.C. government thinks it can do to reinvigorate the sector.

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The B.C. government is making a change to increase the processing of B.C. logs on the coast.

Premier John Horgan introduced parts of the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative Thursday during his speech at the annual Truck Loggers Association convention

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“We’re committed to rebuilding a strong and healthy coastal forest sector for British Columbians,” Horgan said. “Through the forest policy reforms I’m announcing today, we will see more logs and fibre processed in B.C., supporting B.C. workers, their families and communities.”

READ MORE: B.C. business leaders continue to China as political representatives head home

Part of the new plan is to reduce wood waste by redirecting it to B.C.’s pulp and paper mills. Horgan also announced on Thursday improvements to harvest performance, ensuring more fibre is available for B.C. mills, including the pulp and paper sector.

There has been growing concern in the forestry industry over raw logs being shipped out of the province and processed there. That has led to a decrease in jobs and fears that more job losses would come in an industry which was once the backbone of B.C.’s economy.

WATCH: Premier Horgan on using wood waste for driving pulp and paper mills

The changes to waste policy are designed to get some of the approximately two million cubic metres of wood waste on the coast to pulp and paper producers and the bio-products sector,

In addition to making changes to ensure bids on timber sale licences are independently made, Horgan is also working on business-to-business relationships between BC Timber Sales, major licensees and First Nations.

READ MORE: Fighting fire with fire: forestry experts call for more controlled burning in B.C.

“Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the B.C. government and our business partners share the same goals: revitalized coastal forestry and long-term reconciliation with First Nations,” said Huu-ay-aht First Nations chief councillor Robert Dennis.

“Today’s forestry policy announcements are an important step toward achievement of these twin goals.”

The provincial government will be making a series of legislative, regulatory and policy changes over the next two years. Engagement will continue with First Nations and the industry over the next few months as some policy proposals are finalized.

“The announcements made today by the premier will fundamentally address growing concerns about forest management on the coast,” said Truck Loggers Association executive director David Elstone.

“As timber-harvesting contractors, we recognize change is required and that the industry needs certainty.”

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