Government has the right to set broad policy and objectives that reflect both their desires and the ever-changing expectations of society related to BC’s forest-management. There is also a balance to be struck that ensures the livelihood of BC forest workers and resource communities. That’s how our democratic system works, and we should all be glad we live in such a country. However, government also has a duty to engage and consult with those being significantly impacted by their decision-making.
In the final days of the fall legislative session, the BC government cut off debate and rammed through legislation that contains sweeping changes to the forestry sector, giving Cabinet the authority to change or end timber licences, determine what compensation may be paid to forest companies, and redistribute Crown logging rights to community and Indigenous land title holders.
For many months, the Truck Loggers Association and others in the forest sector have repeatedly expressed our desire to work with the Premier and Forests Minister so decision-making would be informed with a true understanding of the issues and the consequences – and to ensure success in implementing their new directions.
There is a magnitude of options and transitions available to address issues in the forestry sector that are better than the apparent yes or no path government has embarked upon. Government has yet to attach any meaningful social and economic considerations to their so-called modernization of forest policy in BC. Instead, there appears to be an absolute capitulation to special interest groups.
The truth is our forests continue to offer an opportunity for BC to provide the solutions we all seek for tackling climate change, by meeting the highest environmental standards with the highest proportion of independently certified forests in the world – while also harvesting trees before they turn into carbon emitters and locking carbon into wood products and wood buildings where they provide an ongoing climate change solution. Our products truly are the right decision for those caring about sustainability and the environment.
Government is foregoing such opportunities for our people and communities and instead has set in motion an unprecedented level of uncertainty and concern that is already having a significant impact on those whose livelihoods are at stake without any information about what is next in terms of transition strategies, fair compensation, or worker programs.
Just days ago, Minister Conroy suggested that the government wants to work with us on moving the sector forward. Well, we’re waiting – and so too are the communities and families who will be a key factor in achieving success.
Bob Brash, Registered Professional Forester
Executive Director – Truck Loggers Association of BC