I read an opinion piece in e-KNOW.ca regarding the provincial government’s old growth deferral announcement that included a number of observations – but lost in the commentary is the very real impact and significant impact this decision will have on working families and communities in this province.
For a number of months, the Truck Loggers Association of BC has called for a collective vision for forestry and on the issue of old growth – that strikes a balance to ensure the livelihood of B.C. forest workers and resource communities while also addressing society’s expectations of B.C.’s forest-management.
We asked for meaningful collaboration among all key stakeholders, including First Nations, community groups, licensees and non-government organizations – so decision-making would be informed with a true understanding of the issues and the consequences, to find a solution that works for everyone.
That’s why we were so disheartened to see the government’s announcement on old-growth deferrals that government estimates will cause 4,500 lost jobs, but will likely be far higher, each of those representing a family that will be forever impacted.
It is incomprehensible that a parallel socio-economic analysis to quantify the impact to people, families, communities, and the sector had not been done prior to this decision. The announcement referenced some potential support programs that fall very short of the requirements to support people and communities. Likewise, compensation for affected workers and contractors was not mentioned.
Our members are good people who want to work; instead, they’ll be faced with losing their businesses, their homes and will be challenged with putting food on the table for their families.
We recognize that British Columbians are passionate about protecting at risk old growth and we share that passion, but there were many viable options to find a balance that most people in our province could support. Current old-growth harvesting represents only a fraction of the current 11.4 million hectares of old forests, of which over 75% is already protected or outside the timber harvesting land base.
We will continue to advocate for policies and decisions that move our people, sector, and communities progressively forward. The question is whether government will care to start listening.
Executive Director – Truck Loggers Association of BC