Hammond Cedar employee stacks the high-value wood that remains in demand around the world. The Fraser River site has had a sawmill for more than 100 years, and it’s closing by the end of 2019. (Maple Ridge News)

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Another bruising week for B.C.’s forest industry featured the indefinite shutdown of Tolko Industries’ sawmill at Kelowna, and the halt of what was left of Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley logging by contractors for Teal-Jones Group, which runs three mills in Surrey.

That’s 600 more mill workers either out of a job or soon to be as their log supply runs out, plus contracted loggers and haulers. Add that to Interfor’s permanent closure of the century-old Hammond Cedar sawmill in Maple Ridge and West Fraser’s move to “variable operating schedules” at its sawmills and plywood plants at Williams Lake, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Chetwynd and Fraser Lake. All in a 10-day period, and all due to the now-familiar mixture of low lumber prices, high log costs, diminished log supply and U.S. trade sanctions.

Teal-Jones added two more factors in its second decision this summer to lay off loggers: “Current high stumpage rates remain high relative to lumber prices, and harvesting costs have been adversely impacted by new regulations to bring out more residual waste fibre.”

RELATED: Hundreds of Teal-Jones workers await end of log supply

RELATED: Closure sad day for Hammond mill families, community

Stumpage, the province’s Crown timber fee, is adjusted quarterly and hasn’t kept up with plummeting lumber prices this year. And the NDP has cracked down on residual waste, charging triple stumpage on any wood left behind that is deemed to be economically usable.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says the residual wood program is just getting going, defining economic hauling zones, and may need some adjustments. But industry should get used to it. The days of huge slash piles left behind after the sawlogs are trucked out are coming to an end, and not just on the B.C. coast.

“I’m expecting we’re going to hear about this in the Interior renewal process that we’re undertaking as well,” Donaldson told me. “Wood left in slash piles that could be used for other purposes is consistent. The key is ensuring that those policy changes are applied where there is an economic analysis that it’s economical to bring that wood out.”

B.C. Liberal forest critic John Rustad says the new residual rules pile on harvesting costs at the worst possible time, and it’s backfiring as logging slows rather than running at a loss. Instead of getting extra residual wood, pulp mills are grinding more logs to keep going, he says.

Traditionally, residual fibre is collected by a second logging crew, mainly for pulp. Nowadays we also have pellet manufacturers feeding power plants in Europe, and value-added producers making everything from log homes to windows, doors, siding and other specialty products. Donaldson wants all usable wood taken out on the “first pass” of logging.

Donaldson made his first visit to the Global Buyers Mission event in Whistler last week. It’s the 16th annual trade show held by B.C. Wood, the value-added manufacturers group. Held in the ski resort that symbolizes B.C. wood construction world-wide, it had 270 industry representives hosting buyers from 20 countries, including Australia, Mexico, the U.K., the U.S., India, Japan and China.

B.C. Wood’s tracking system reports $38 million in sales from the Global Buyers Mission last year, Donaldson said. And some specialty products are made from residual wood that doesn’t fit the traditional measure of eight-foot construction lumber.

“It aligns well with what we’re focused on as the direction for the forest sector in the future, maximizing value rather than just maximizing volume,” he said. “That’s the way we’ve got to go.”

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

CVRD may have to delay 11 capital projects scheduled for 2020

More than 50 of the 81 projects are complete or are schedule for the year

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Mill Bay students holding out hope for a more traditional graduation

Disappointment likely looms, according to a SD79 report

VIU leadership conference online for month of June

Students and community members can sign up for the speaker series and/or the excursion series

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Most Read