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.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Parksville man, 95, gets lifetime achievement award for civil rights work

Bill Duncan worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago

71-unit rental apartment building proposed in downtown Parksville

Open house will take place before second reading of bylaw amendment

Construction to begin on new $2M fire hall in Deep Bay

Long-term debt will be financed over a 20-year period

Parksville Royals hurler earns scholarship to Nebraska school

Frank came to mid-Island from Terrace to pursue baseball dreams

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

17-year-old girl from Nanaimo reported missing

RCMP asking for help finding Trisha Harry

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

‘He was just untying the boats and watching them float away’

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read