Coastal loggers take a break, 1939. (Truck Loggers Association)

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

The Truck Loggers Association celebrates its 75th anniversary in Victoria this week, with coastal logging contractors waiting for the NDP government to put its stamp on forest policy and help a struggling industry.

Premier John Horgan speaks to the convention for the first time Thursday, and members are waiting for word on the provincial review of the viability of logging contractors that was promised by former premier Christy Clark at last year’s convention.

TLA executive director Dave Elstone said he hopes a report by former cabinet minister George Abbott will be ready by the end of January, offering strategies to reverse the fortunes of contractors who have been leaving the logging industry in recent years.

The convention opened Wednesday, featuring a keynote address by Patrick Moore, best known as a co-founder of Greenpeace who quit the organization when he decided it had lost its way. Moore recounted the history of his family company, W.D. Moore Log Co., which shut down last fall after 90 years of operation at Winter Harbour on northern Vancouver Island.

RELATED: How will Winter Harbour survive?

Elstone told Black Press that W.D. Moore is one of about 40 logging contractors to leave the coastal business in recent years. High U.S. lumber prices have the remaining loggers running full tilt, but current conditions for the industry leave them with the narrowest of operating margins, he said.

Loggers cope with unpredictable weather, such as last year’s hard winter followed by a wet spring and dry summer, which affect operations in the coastal forest. And even with the current lumber export duty of more than 20 per cent imposed by the U.S. being covered by the current high price, the industry is vulnerable to any price downturn, Elstone said.

Another policy being closely watched by the TLA is the NDP government’s log export policy. Horgan has criticized timber companies for trucking logs past shut-down sawmills to sell them for export, and even suggested in last year’s election campaign that coastal logs should be shipped to B.C. Interior sawmills.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson speaks to the convention Friday. His mandate letter from Horgan directs him to “develop a fair, lasting strategy to create more jobs by processing more logs in B.C.”

The TLA argues there is sufficient log supply to support both domestic mills and exports, but major timber licence holders are not harvesting their allowable cut. Contractors say lower-quality coastal timber is only economical to harvest if cedar and other export-grade logs come out with it.

A hemlock sawlog that sells domestically for $60 a cubic metre costs as much as $90 or $100 to harvest, and can be sold for up to $120 to the export market, a Vancouver Island producer told the TLA magazine.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

More than 125 tonnes of garbage hauled in during Fraser River Cleanup in Chilliwack

A total of 700 volunteers flocked to the shores of the Fraser River to help with the cleanup

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from March 25 to 31

WATCH: Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 in Chilliwack trying to flee police

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Drugs and guns seized by Chilliwack Mounties in complex case

Drug trafficking investigations led to five arrests in three different locations across Chilliwack

Chilliwack RCMP trying to catch robbery suspect

Police hope someone will identify the person who appears in security camera footage

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Most Read