The Pacific Inland Resources mill in Smithers employed 441 full-time workers in 2020 and paid out $20.4 million in direct wages and benefits. (Thom Barker photo)

The Pacific Inland Resources mill in Smithers employed 441 full-time workers in 2020 and paid out $20.4 million in direct wages and benefits. (Thom Barker photo)

One Smithers mill alone generates $120 million in economic impact annually

The forestry industry remains a major economic driver in the Bulkley Valley

The province’s recent decision to protect more old growth forest has many people in the Bulkley Valley forestry sector worried about the potential economic impact it could have on the area.

Last week, local loggers, truckers and other forestry contractors took to the streets of Smithers to raise awareness of the role the industry plays in the Bulkley Valley.

Economically, despite declines in forestry over the past two decades primarily due to pine beetle and fires, the industry is still a major economic driver in Northwest B.C.

According to a 2019 report by accounting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers, the sector produces a GDP of more than $650 million in the North Coast and Nechako region (roughly Burns Lake to Prince Rupert and north to the Yukon border).

Roughly 8,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs are created and supported by the forest industry in the region generating $497 million in labour income.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Bulkley Valley forestry workers rally over concern about old-growth deferrals

To put it in a more local context, one sawmill in Smithers alone is responsible for approximately $120 million of economic impact.

According the company documentation, in 2020, Pacific Inland Resources paid out $120.287 million.

This includes $51.6 million in log delivery costs, $24 million in lumber freight, $11.9 million in stumpage fees and timber rentals, $$7.9 million in maintenance and operating expenses, $955,000 in capital construction, $2.9 million for silviculture and $834,000 in property taxes.

Furthermore direct employee wages and benefits amounted to $20.4 million for the year supporting 441 full-time employees and their families.

Reacting to last week’s rally, Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill said she appreciates the contribution forestry makes to the town.

“What I heard today was do we recognize the significance of forestry in our local economy?” she said. “The answer is, of course, we do, it is significant, it’s a part of the history, it’s a part of the culture and it’s part of the economy.”

Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen said it is too early to know what kind of impact old-growth logging deferrals might have because none have been finalized yet, but that the NDP would have the backs of workers who are affected if and when the time comes.

“I understand anxieties based on that feeling of abandonment when the sector went through a major downturn from 2000 on, we’re a very community- and people-focussed government so we’re going to be there for folks.”



editor@interior-news.com

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