2012-08-22

MLAs Blow Chance to Help Us See BC's Next Forest Industry

The Special Legislative Committee on Timber Supply has completed their report intended to help the forest sector and communities impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle and more specifically address the issues related to possible re-building the Burns Lake sawmill destroyed by fire in January. The Committee positioned the report as the answer to the future of B.C.'s forest and forest dependent communities. However, they chose to limit their comments on the issues specific to their narrow Terms of Reference while not taking the opportunity to provide leadership and innovation on key issues affecting the overall management of B.C.'s forests. The Committee grossly missed the point of what is needed for the future of B.C. forests.

This is an opportunity lost!

The report recommends increasing timber supply to help Burns Lake even as it acknowledges that timber supply will drop dramatically in the coming years due to pine beetle devastation and speaks vaguely of consulting communities and First Nations in figuring out a way forward. But the report had no surprises and nothing new regarding the issues identified through the consultation process. The issues were consistent with the 2011 results arising from the Healthy Forest-Healthy Communities' community dialogue sessions and those from forest management experts. The issues and recommendations are generally known within Government or the bureaucracy for some time. There is a fear Government will position the Committee report with the Roundtable on Forestry report as the blueprint to revitalize the forest sector. This would be totally incorrect as key issues are not addressed in either report. A comprehensive strategic action plan is required rather than piece meal short-term economic actions as recommended by the Committee.