The provincial government is looking for public input when it comes to shaping the Interior forest sector, in order to make it more innovative, create more jobs, and support Interior communities.
Lower prices for lumber, pressure from the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., a shrinking timber supply due to back-to-back wildfire seasons, and the end of the mountain pine beetle salvage harvest have resulted in recent mill closures and curtailments.
In June, West Fraser announced that it was shutting its mill in Chasm, meaning the loss of 176 direct jobs in the region stretching from Ashcroft to 100 Mile House. It was just one such announcement in the Interior in recent weeks, and analysts predict there will be more.
The Interior Forest Sector Renewal process aims to act on the factors contributing to mill closures. Public engagement on a discussion paper that has been developed is one of two complementary, parallel streams within the process.
Now through Oct. 11, 2019, members of the public are invited to participate in dialogue on the discussion paper by providing written submissions or feedback through an online survey.
Specific policy areas where the public is being asked for input include forest tenure and fibre supply; climate change and forest carbon; manufacturing capacity and fibre use; wood products innovation; reconciliation with Indigenous communities; and fibre and sustainability of timber and non-timber forest values.
To review the discussion paper, find information on how to provide a written submission, and/or participate online, visit https://www.engage.gov.bc.ca/interiorforestrenewal/.
Ministry staff are also holding localized, in-person engagement on the discussion paper in various communities throughout the Interior with representatives of the people, communities, and organizations most deeply involved and affected by the forest sector, including local and provincial elected officials and representatives and First Nations, along with key forest sector stakeholders, industry, contractors, professionals, and labour representatives.
Public sessions are scheduled in Kamloops, Merritt, and Williams Lake during the week of Aug. 11–17. A “What We Heard” report on feedback received through the Interior Forest Sector Renewal process is expected to be released in late fall 2019.