Organizers of the B.C. logging convoy claim the NDP government is not doing enough to help the province’s struggling industry, despite their protests.
True North spoke to organizers shortly after it was announced that the government would no longer issue further licenses in a 5,800 hectare forest plot after facing pressure from the mayor of Seattle and environmental groups.
The decision places further pressure on the bleeding industry which threatens communities throughout B.C. which rely on forestry for their survival.
“The forestry industry is in crisis and many B.C communities depend on the industry to make revenue,” said convoy member and business owner Shelly Stewart.
On September 25, nearly 300 logging trucks travelled from all across British Columbia to rally at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The convoy was organized principally by Frank Etchart and Howard McKinnon.
BC’s NDP government recently announced a $69 million aid package for both employers and employees that included early retirement plans, job placement and more work projects.
“$69 million for the forest industry…I can’t even call it peanuts, it’s pathetic,” said Stewart.
“It doesn’t help out contractors or business owners like myself, it’s only helping out the guys working in the mill. There’s a whole bunch of us that aren’t captured in that $69 million plan.”
True North reached out to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations but did not receive a response.
According to Stewart, convoy members plan on rallying the Truck Loggers Association annual convention in 2020 and the Canada North Resources Expo in Prince George in 2021.
B.C. Liberal forestry critic John Rustad estimated that about 80% of the coastal forestry sector is currently down.
Thousands have been laid off, including 2,000 layoffs by Mosaic Forest Management at the end of November.
“This summer I laid my people off for nine weeks, we were only supposed to be shut down for two weeks,” said Stewart, who owns the contracting business Bar S Ventures.
“It has fallen upon deaf ears and they’ve looked at the convoy and it’s gone in one ear and out the other, in our opinion, that’s how it was being addressed.”