The advocacy group for B.C.’s chambers of commerce has thrown its weight behind the Squamish Chamber’s call for the provincial government to address a pressing forestry issue.
A Squamish Chamber of Commerce policy resolution about what the local forest industry sees as an under-harvest of the coastal allowable annual cut was adopted at the 2018 B.C. Chamber AGM in Kamloops, held at the end of May, according to a news release from the local organization.
It is a complex issue, but in simple terms, the provincial government controls how much timber is available for harvesting over a specified time and under specific circumstances. The Squamish Chamber resolution calls for the government to make changes that would allow for more timber to be harvested.
“The Coast region continues to experience a persistent under-harvest, with mature hemlock-balsam stands which are not being fully utilized to the benefit of British Columbia. The ongoing under-harvest has had a significant negative impact on businesses, infrastructure, and employment,” said Eric Andersen, Policy Chair, Squamish Chamber. “The harvest of the full allowable cut would stimulate significant economic activity in forestry communities.”
The resolution recommends more efficient approvals processes, reducing uncertainties around the current export policy, and product and market development programs.
Specifically, the resolution calls for the government to:
1.Continue to work with all parties toward clarifying First Nations consultation responsibilities and addressing delays in cutting permit approvals faced by forest operators;
2.Add additional Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development staff to deal with approvals;
3.Take into account the critical role of log exports in supporting employment activity in forest operations, sustainable harvest of the full forest profile, and in supporting the domestic manufacturing industry by delivering more logs than what would otherwise be delivered and at lower cost;
- Alleviate uncertainties for forest operators inherent in the current Surplus Test and advertising procedures for log export applications, which have the net effect of reducing harvesting activity and thus availability of logs also to domestic manufacturers; and
5.Restrict sawmilling companies with under harvested AAC on their own forest tenures blocking export applications from forest operators without mills;
- Consider the implementation of a scheme of Coastal economic zones defined according to forest operating conditions, for the potential application of incentive policies including Orders in Council exemptions from existing policies; and
7.Continue restrictions on the export of red cedar, yellow cedar and high-grade logs; and
8.Increase investment in product and market development programs for underutilized timber resources.
The policy resolution was crafted in consultation with the Squamish and District Forestry Association, Squamish Nation, and forestry businesses and consultants.
The full resolution can be seen at www.squamishchamber.com.
The Squamish also put forward other resolutions including housing affordability, transit, and economic development.