COFI to hold convention for industry for under pressure of change

“We need to have a reasonable expectation that there’s going to be access to fibre to (supply B.C.) mills,” mentioned Susan Yurkovich, CEO, Council of Forest Industries

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British Columbia’s forest business will make a diplomatic push for presidency to deliver stability to a sector below strain from substantial change when it gathers for its first main conference since 2019 in Vancouver this week.

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“I think we all want investment, but we have to have some predictability,” mentioned Susan Yurkovich, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI), the group that represents the key lumber producers.

It is an ask being made, nevertheless, on the similar time the province is making huge modifications to forest coverage and being pushed to take stronger motion on defending previous development forests by the frequent protests by the group Save Old Growth that has been blocking the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge.

“Not certainty, because everything in life is uncertain,” Yurkovich added, “but we need to have a reasonable expectation that there’s going to be access fibre to (supply B.C.) mills because you’re not going to invest a whole bunch of money if you can’t access fibre.”

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And the province, in its most up-to-date funds, estimated that B.C.’s timber harvest should shrink by 12 per cent this 12 months below the burden of old-growth logging deferrals, losses from forest fires and persevering with hangover from the mountain pine beetle infestation.

Susan Yurkovich, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, addressing questions on stage during her presentation to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
Susan Yurkovich, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, addressing questions on stage throughout her presentation to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Photo by Derrick Penner /PNG

COFI will host 700 delegates, from main forest firms to First Nations and business suppliers, to ship that message on the downtown Parq Vancouver lodge and on line casino Thursday and Friday.

And Premier John Horgan confirmed indicators his authorities isn’t wavering from its model of modernizing forest coverage, which has authorities squeezed between conservation activists and business.

“We’re dealing with First Nations’ rights, entitlements,” Horgan instructed Postmedia. “We’re dealing with workers, with businesses, with communities. That’s how you solve deep problems.

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“You don’t solve them by hunger striking, you don’t solve them by terrorizing women,” mentioned Horgan referring to Forests Minister Katrine Conroy, who was assaulted when leaving her workplace final December and just lately was subjected to threats of a “citizen’s arrest on social media.”

Conroy and Horgan are scheduled to ship keynote speeches to the COFI  conference: the Minister of Forests to open the occasion Thursday and the premier at high-profile lunch occasion Friday.

Horgan, on Tuesday, mentioned he’s “proud of her as a rural woman,” who continues to function minister regardless of the December assault.

“She is working on the most challenging file we have and she’s doing a spectacular job,” Horgan mentioned.

Conroy, in the meantime, is scheduled to make an announcement Wednesday with Minister of Indigenous Relations Murray Rankin on First Nations forestry alongside First Nations’ representatives.

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And the shift of provincial forest coverage to incorporate First Nations and Indigenous information in forest administration could also be a much bigger change to the business than old-growth logging deferrals, in accordance with UBC Forestry professor John Innes.

“That’s actually really interesting,” mentioned Innes, former dean and Forest Renewal B.C. chair in forest administration.

The modifications, which promise to prioritize ecosystem well being over timber manufacturing in forest administration, is consistent with the province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, Innes mentioned, and a sea change for the business.

“What we have seen in British Columbia is a progressive reduction in the amount of timber available for harvesting,” mentioned Innes, whereas main firms resembling Canfor Corp., West Fraser Timber Co. and Interfor have made main investments outdoors the province.

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In B.C., “we’re seeing more and more companies either working very closely with First Nations, or even selling parts of their business to them,” Innes added, which is a optimistic consequence from coverage modifications.

“We may well see changes in the way those First Nations companies market the timber and who they might sell it to,” Innes mentioned.


With information from Katie DeRosa, Postmedia

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