B.C. Liberal forest critic John Rustad (Hansard TV)

B.C. Liberals call for tax relief for struggling forest industry

Donaldson rejects ‘messing with stumpage system’ that inflames U.S.

Opposition politicians are calling on B.C. Premier John Horgan to reduce the tax load on forest companies as they deal with log shortages, slumping lumber prices and continued import duties from the United States.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and forests critic John Rustad released a letter to Horgan on Thursday, calling for reduction of carbon tax charged to forest companies, and stumpage fees collected by the province for harvesting of timber from Crown land.

“John Horgan needs to hold himself accountable, stop making excuses and stop the job losses in this province,” Rustad said. “At a time when forestry workers across the province should be hard at work, instead they are facing job losses and no paycheques.”

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said Thursday the province must proceed carefully on any changes to B.C. stumpage is well known to incite protests from U.S. lumber producers, who have argued for decades that B.C.’s lumber is subsidized by artificially low cost of logs.

“Messing with the stumpage system is not a solution,” Donaldson told Black Press.

Donaldson also noted that during his bried time as forests minister in 2017, Rustad predicted up to 10 mills closing due to the decline in timber supply due to pine beetle damage.

Canfor, Interfor, West Fraser, Tolko and other lumber producers have announced temporary and permanent mill closures across the province in recent weeks, citing the scarcity of sawlogs in the B.C. Interior and a long slide in prices for construction lumber in recent months.

The downturn has spread to oriented strandboard producers. Louisiana Pacific announced Thursday it is shutting down its OSB production facility in Taylor, B.C. in August, after a similar announcement by Norbord for its OSB plant in 100 Mile House earlier this week.

RELATED: Norbord shutdown affects 160 workers in 100 Mile House

RELATED: Canfor temporarily shutting down sawmills across B.C.

Wilkinson and Rustad are calling on the B.C. government to reduce stumpage and carbon tax on forest companies, their logging contractors and other businesses that depend on the forest industry “until market conditions stabilize.”

Their suggestions include creating a fund for communities hit by the recent closures and curtailments, to put laid-off employees to work on wildfire prevention projects. Fuel load from decades of forest fire suppression has been a factor in recent record fire seasons.

Wildfire prevention projects are being funded and federal and provincial governments are working together to provide “short-term support for workers and communities,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Westbound Highway 1 roll-over crash slowing commuters in Abbotsford

Accident occurred just west of Mt. Lehman Road, left lane blocked

Winter weather plays havoc on teams traveling to Hope

Road conditions and crashes kept some players from Mustangs’ tournament

VIDEO: Time’s running out for Montreal Alumni tickets in Hope

Habs will face off against Hope hockey players on Saturday afternoon

Fraser Valley snow storms finally fade

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

Peking Acrobats bring extraordinary exhibition of agility, athleticism and grace to Chilliwack

They will perform in beautiful costumes with dazzling special effects and live musicians

VIDEO: Bobcat infiltrates Shuswap couple’s coop, feasts on fowl

Police officers credited for attempting to assist with animal’s extraction

Metro Vancouver hit with $637,000 WorkSafeBC fine for ‘high risk’ sewer work

Workers could have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas

VIDEO: Fire closes 16th Avenue between 248th and 256th Streets in South Langley

Crews are on scene and are asking commuters to use an alternate route

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

VIDEO: B.C. mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

Most Read