Towns have dim view of logging, future

Coastal communities are losing faith in the logging industry that once sustained them.

Coastal communities are losing faith in the logging industry that once sustained them.

According to a survey of coastal mayors, only a quarter of them think the industry is managing B.C.’s forests properly, almost two-thirds feel it is in worse shape than it was decade ago, and a little over half are optimistic about its future.

Still, the executive director of the industry advocacy group that commissioned the survey is looking at its results as less of an indictment of the state of the industry and more of a clear indication of how important it is to the communities surveyed.

“It’s not a statement of losing faith in the industry. It’s a show of faith they know the importance of the industry to the community,” David Elstone said. “It’s related to economic opportunities, and, from the mayors’ perspective, it’s jobs.”

Released June 20 by the Truck Loggers Association, Community Perspectives on the Coastal Forest Industry surveyed the leaders of 27 traditionally forest-dependent communities and compared their answers to those given in a similar survey in 2004.

The comparison showed the number of respondents confident in the industry’s stewardship had dropped from 63 per cent to 26 per cent. Meanwhile, 62 per cent felt forestry was not as healthy as it was 10 years ago and the number of those optimistic about its future had dropped from 88 to 56 per cent.

Elstone said the results reflect the volatility experienced by TLA members, the small- and medium-sized businesses responsible for falling trees and hauling them out of the woods. In the time between surveys, more than 25 timber-harvesting contractors declared insolvency.

“Contractors are leaving the industry in one way or another and that’s important,” he said. “You have to ask ‘why?’”

Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood has noticed a major difference in the role forest companies have taken in his community since the economic crash of 2008.

“Before that they were major contributors in terms of contributing to the communities their employees work in,” Bood said. “Our success depends on who actually harvests the land. I’m not completely satisfied with what the current tenure holders are pushing back into my community, but they can address that. I know that they try. Hiring locals is a big thing.”

That is where evidence of the industry’s importance lies, Elstone said. TLA members live, work and create jobs in coastal communities. If they can’t succeed, communities feel the effect.

He said his members face an ongoing struggle in negotiating harvesting contracts with the larger companies that hold forest tenures.

“We are trying to point out that we are aligned with communities. Our position is contractor sustainability. There seems to be a challenging relationship between us and the licensee.”

The survey was done voluntarily and electronically. It was distributed to the leaders of the 79 communities that the TLA considers its membership area and received a 34 per cent response rate. Qualicum, Parksville, Tofino, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Comox and Lake Cowichan were among the north Island communities that did not take part.

Other findings included:

• The number of mayors in favour of raw log exports remained about the same, about 62 per cent, compared to 60 per cent in 2004.

• More than 70 per cent say the expansion of parks and protected areas has not impacted their communities.

• A majority of leaders support and recognize the growing role of First Nations in the industry.

Not covered in the survey was the issue of a total ban on old growth logging endorsed by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in April, a ban industry leaders say would devastate the industry.

Bood said he hopes the report sends a message to the decision-makers that they aren’t doing enough. He said the province appears focused on getting what it can in terms of taxes and fees, while the industry is angling to maximize profits. What coastal communities get is of secondary importance.

“Communities are looking for more from both of them.”

Elstone acknowledged he is troubled by the large percentage of respondents questioning the stewardship of the forests. He said the TLA will investigate further to determine what that response means and what must be done to reverse that perception.

However, the industry is taking heart in the 86 per cent support for the concept of “working forests” — a portion of the land base set aside specifically for forestry.

“The best way to create good jobs is to support your forest industry,” he said.

john.mckinley@blackpress.ca

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

Just Posted

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read