Close to 100 people gathered the parking lot of the Johnston Road 7-Eleven on Friday and marched to Victoria Quay to support a campaign to ban raw log exports.

Representatives from major forest industry unions and environmental organizations along with local elected officials and First Nations marched Friday, July 22, in Port Alberni to rally for sustainable forestry.

The Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC), Unifor, Wilderness Committee and Ancient Forest Alliance are calling on the BC government to end raw-log exports and to prioritize the transition to sustainable second-growth forestry.

The Port Alberni rally is the second this year, and it won’t be the last on the Island, said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island organizer for the Wilderness Committee.

“It’s less than a year out from the (provincial) election and some of the organizers from PPWC and Unifor thought it was good timing” to hold the rally now, Coste said.

“Raw log exports isn’t a new thing but there’s a host of things that need attention moving into an election year and this is definitely one of them,” he said.

“We know this is a practice that kills jobs. The public has to be louder and that’s what we’re going to strive for.

“If the government is going to ignore that it’s to their peril.”

A rally was held in Duncan in the fall, and while no specific date has been chosen for the next rally, Coste said there will be another one—perhaps Nanaimo or Campbell River, which are other Island communities where logging is an important industry.

“We’ll be looking strategically for when it will be good to mobilize,” Coste said. “Keeping pressure on the minister of forests and the premier is key.”

Scott Fraser, MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim, as well as local First Nations representatives spoke at the rally.

“Raw log exports and other unsustainable practices have resulted in thousands of lost jobs in the coastal forest industry, and it’s got to stop,” said Arnold Bercov, president of the PPWC.

“If we don’t turn this around these policies will be a death knell for the workers we represent.”

According to statistics released by rally organizers, the BC government annually permits more than six million cubic metres of raw logs to be exported without processing – enough logs to fill more than 200,000 logging trucks or when milled to build more than 100,000 homes.