B.C. Premier John Horgan meets with Interfor managers in Castlegar, April 2019. (Castlegar News)

B.C. forest industry ending 2019 in distress

Premier’s year-end interview looks ahead to 2020

Black Press legislature reporter Tom Fletcher sat down with Premier John Horgan to discuss the government’s 2019 record and his expectations for the coming year. One topic was the forest industry, which is dealing with a debilitating six-month strike on Vancouver Island and a wave of logging and sawmill shutdowns across the province. For the full interview, go to www.interior-news.com.

TF: In the Interior, I understand the loss of timber from beetles and fires, but you have large companies shutting down operations in B.C. and investing in the U.S. and in some cases in Alberta.

JH: And Sweden.

TF: When you were opposition leader you talked about a “capital strike” against NDP governments. Is there political pressure being applied to you by these companies?

JH: I don’t think so. In the case of Canfor for example, it’s a publicly traded company and Jimmy Pattison said, look, forestry’s not a quarterly business. You’ve got analysts with publicly traded companies saying every quarter you’ve got to shave something off your bottom line. In forestry you’re looking at a long-term future. So to have someone of Jimmy Pattison’s calibre purchase the shares and take it private, I think is a signal to the industry that there is a long-term future.

[Canfor shareholders voted down Pattison’s purchase offer on Dec. 18. His company, Great Pacific Capital Corp., already owns 51 per cent of Canfor shares and it’s not yet clear if he will make a new offer in 2020.]

JH: I think that’s the opposite of a capital strike. Canfor’s got a long-term future, its head office is here, it’s now an international company, and I think that’s good news for everybody. I don’t believe this is about capital, it’s about trying to figure out what we do after the end of the beetle kill and two of the worst fire seasons in B.C. history. And the softwood lumber dispute continues to linger.

TF: Yes. We hear a lot that our stumpage formula can’t change because the U.S. industry will use that against Canada. But I’m told that Alberta manages to make monthly adjustments on their stumpage and there are no consequences that I’m aware of.

JH: Volumes are far greater here. There are adjustments to stumpage on the Coast and in the Interior. It happened in October, it’s going to happen again in January.

[Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced Dec. 19 that the annual review of stumpage, the province’s tax on Crown land logs, will result in a reduction from $18.73 per cubic metre to $8.82 for existing B.C. coast cutting permits effective Jan. 1. The province’s new penalties on waste wood left behind are also being reduced.]

JH: I believe industry knows full well that we have to be very sensitive to how the U.S. interprets any action we take on our publicly owned land and the tenure operators who work on it.

The issues are not stumpage, the issues are supply and markets, and we’re working as hard as we can to fix all of those things at the same time.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Witset releases COVID-19 strategy following three confirmed cases

Plan implements strict measures to contain spread of the virus

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read