(Black Press Media file)

Stumpage rates result in job losses for 50 Fraser Valley employees

The company has operations in Chilliwack, Mission, Harrison Mills, Vancouver Island and the Interior

B.C.’s forestry industry crisis has hit the Fraser Valley, with Western Canadian Timber Products Ltd. laying off 50 employees last week.

According to vice-president Don Banasky, the Harrison Mills company laid off 50 employees — including those who worked in mechanics, welding, purchasing and logging labour positions — as well as four hauling contractors and a four-man yarder on Friday, Nov. 22.

The company has its primary office and shop in Harrison Mills, with forest management and engineering services located in Chilliwack. However, it also has logging operations in Mission, Manning Park, Boston Bar, Harrison Lake, Port Alberni and the Interior.

In a release, company president Brian Dorman said the lay offs were a result of high stumpage rates to the provincial government and poor log sale prices.

RELATED: Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

“The government is just taking too much of our sales price for stumpage,” Dorman said in the release. “Some of our cut blocks are still close to $50 per cubic metre, yet our sales price is less than $100 per cubic metre. This means 50 per cent of our sales goes to the government, which is unacceptable for any sound business to move forward.

“In today’s market, we need stumpage rates to be $5 per cubic metre, not $50 per cubic metre.”

Stumpage is the fee businesses pay when they harvest timber from Crown land. The B.C. government calculates stumpage rates quarterly, and each January releases an average stumpage rate schedule based on billed rates from the previous year. The schedule released in January 2019 showed stumpage fees in Coastal B.C. ranging between $11.88 per cubic metre and $24 per cubic metre.

RELATED: Stumpage fees rise, with varied effects on industry

Businesses pay based on the volume, species and grades of their timber, as well as the stumpage rates.

Banasky said the company has been in conversations with the provincial government about stumpage fees, but hasn’t seen movement from the government.

“It’s horrible to think the government is not jumping over hoops to assist in areas (that are) more than optics,” Banasky said in an email. “This is what it feels like for us. We would simply like to have an ear and so would the rest of industry. The time for action is now.”

Western Canadian Timber is not the only company to have laid off employees because of the forestry crisis. More than two dozen saw mills have closed temporarily around the province, and thousands have been laid off from early winter shutdowns. Truck drivers have also been impacted by the job losses, and even protested at UBCM this September against the province’s stumpage rates.

Currently, Banasky said, the company is focusing on paying its bills and reducing costs. When and if it brings back its employees and contractors depends on what changes occur from the province in regards to stumpage rates.

“We will be monitoring this on Jan. 1,” he said. “If stumpage drops and markets gain, we will consider going to work.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new candidates for Chilliwack-Kent riding

B.C. NDP and B.C. Greens announce candidates to run against incumbent Throness

Sunny skies ahead for Fraser Valley this week

Rain and smoke nowhere in the forecast after weeks of weather alerts

Chilliwack seniors invited to drive-through breakfast

Event held to acknowledge the difficulty faced by Chilliwack seniors during pandemic

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Blue at the Chilliwack SPCA

‘He’s a very laid back, easy-going guy, but still very active,’ says SPCA branch manager

Chilliwack hospice hosts candlelight walk for those who have lost loved ones during pandemic

People invited to ‘celebrate the life of your loved one’ at Illumination Walk

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read