BC government pursues elusive LNG dreams as more than 3,600 forest industry jobs lost to raw log exports.
This story was originally published in Policy Note in February 2017
ITS MEMBERS INCLUDE THE MOST POWERFUL PLAYERS in the province’s forest industry, companies that do the vast majority of all logging on British Columbia’s coast. Its website boasts of “innovative, high-tech” companies whose workers turn out “a growing array of forest and wood products.”
But in truth, members of the Coast Forest Products Association (CFPA) are far from the job creators they could be.
While forest industry manufacturing on BC’s coast stagnates, CFPA member companies, including the huge corporations TimberWest, Western Forest Products and Interfor, collectively ship millions of cubic metres of raw, unprocessed logs out of the province each year – a practice the association claims will increase profits which may one day lead to investments in new sawmills. Included in the export mix are logs from old-growth trees harvested on Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, the Nass Valley in northern BC, and up and down the province’s coast, including in the Great Bear Rainforest, BC’s much-touted showcase for coastal forest conservation and “ecosystem-based” logging.
Since 2013, the year Premier Christy Clark led her government to re-election, nearly 26 million cubic metres of raw logs were shipped from the province, at a combined sales value of more than $3.02 billion. No government in BC history has sanctioned such a high level of valuable raw log exports on its watch or been so mute about the consequences. Last year nearly 6.3 million cubic metres of raw logs left the province. Had those unprocessed logs been milled in BC instead, an estimated 3,650 more men and women could have been working in the province’s neglected forest sector. Moving up the value chain and making even higher value forest products would have added even more jobs to the tally.
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