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.

Just Posted

Old Woss rail line to be reborn as world-class rail trail?

North Island officials giving the idea serious attention

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Vancouver Island kayak shop recovering after car slams through wall

Courtenay operation does most of its business during busy summer months

Grumpy taxpayers question Victoria’s $5,000 ping pong table

Tax watchdog group believes funds could have been used elsewhere

Project will remember fallen Vancouver Island slo-pitch player

Courtenay park plaza will “Never Forget #9” in salute to Chris Godfrey

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Excavators help cute kid who copied their dig with his toys stay “safe at work”

Carson Carnegie wakes up at 7:00 am every morning to watch construction work on his street

Two Campbell River First Nations advance to final stage of treaty negotiation

The Campbell River-based Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have signed… Continue reading

RCMP on Vancouver Island seek information on alleged ‘breaking out’ bandit

Man alleged to have hid in Nanaimo business washroom ceiling overnight, took monitors

Missing Victoria pair’s BMW spotted in Vernon

RCMP encourage people to call with information, not just post on social media

Bacteria counts lead Island Health to warn swimmers off Elk/Beaver Lake beach

Not recommended for people or pets to enter the water at popular Greater Victoria park

Public advised to stay out of the water at Fuller Lake

Tests indicate bacteriological counts exceeding acceptable limits at popular Chemainus beach

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Bob Lenarduzzi out as Vancouver Whitecaps president

MLS team is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings

Most Read