PPWC Local 8 has prepared a letter that members can use to send to elected officials about the health of the forestry industry and jobs in British Columbia. The province is in the middle of a very important election, and this is the time to make our members’ voices heard. Read the letter below, and download a MS Word copy, add your name to the salutation at the bottom, and send to your local MLA, or the Premier.
If you have the pleasure of reading this letter it is because a citizen took time out of their day to mail it to you and is concerned with the health of our provincial forestry industry. While the person mailing this letter may not be a member of PPWC Local 8, I share a common interest with them. This particular communal interest is ensuring that provincially managed working forests are respected and utilized in a productive manner. PPWCs’ Local 8 and I feel that forests in British Columbia are being neglected and we wish to make it known.
It is difficult to watch as B.C. loses jobs in the forestry industry. Whether we work in logging (-800 jobs/-4% 2017-2018 predicted decline into 2029), sawmilling or secondary manufacturing (4 Lumber mills permanently closed by 3rd quarter of 2019), it is difficult to think about the job security this province will be able to provide into the future. Factor in the countless supporting industries/services that rely on forestry, all the spin off industries and the problem becomes threefold in size. These employers provide working middle class jobs, which support many communities both small and large. Why is it that once thriving communities currently surrounded by designated working forests are now facing uncertainty while they watch their main supporting industries curtail or permanently close? Local 8 and I tend to unanimously agree that mismanagement claims a fair share of blame for the state of this sector. It is apparent that TFL’s are not being utilized to their full capacity. As a result, the province suffers.
Here on Vancouver Island, we have an even more complicated system involving private forest lands owned by a very small number of private companies. This particular land ownership is the result of the E&N land grants given to private industry (coal mining) with expectations that certain obligations would be met. This action alone has essentially monopolized the Vancouver Island forestry industry, and in some cases completely privatized forest access to tax paying citizens. This private ownership model is an incredibly polarizing debate topic amongst local residents and a topic that the BC NDP/Green Alliance government is no stranger to. Coincidentally enough, these private forestry companies seem to show a likeness for raw log exports. One company in the news recently attempting to petition the federal government to relax log exportation policies. This proposed policy reform alone speaks volumes for how some private forest landowners feel about our forests.
Vancouver Island locals and tourists alike also regularly find themselves blocked via gates from attending the many beautiful sights that we are home to or are possibly locked behind a gate on the return leg of the journey. How can we claim to be a part of Beautiful British Columbia if we are locked up, available to only a select few key holders or when it suits private industry needs? In 2017, the Green Party leader Andrew Weaver introduced Right to Roam legislation for the citizens of this province. Over 3 years and an NDP/Green coalition government later, absolutely nothing has changed.
Every election year, your provincial party tells us citizens of BC that you need our help. We are now asking for yours. It is time to take action in order to turn this forestry industry around and allow tax paying citizens the right to roam.