Premier John Horgan revealed on Thursday the pillars of a “conscious and deliberate strategy” to curtail exports of minimally processed lumber.
The goal: to rebuild the province’s solid wood and secondary forestry industries, and to turn profits from processing abroad into investments in British Columbia.
“The changes that were made by the B.C. Liberals have enabled log exports to be the easiest way to make quick money. We’ve seen Canadian companies investing in U.S. mills, not investing in British Columbia. We want to turn that around,” the premier told attendees of the 76th annual Truck Loggers Association (TLA) Convention.
“Shareholders are happy with that, British Columbians are not.”
In his address, Horgan outlined in broad strokes a plan to ensure more B.C. timber gets processed in the province. The plan will include reforms to raw log export policies, as well as carrot-and-sticks measures to eliminate surrogate bidding, penalize waste, encourage fibre production and discourage high grading – a type of logging where the highest grades of timber are selectively removed from a forest.
The plan will be phased in, and more details will come to light in the coming months.
“I want to leave no doubt that we are not going to continue to send away unprocessed material to be processed somewhere else,” said Horgan.
The premier also said government will eliminate the fair market rate test: a framework used to help resolve rate disputes between logging licence holders and contractors who do the work, which the TLA maintains has caused rates to stagnate and in some cases fall. The announcement received a standing ovation from the audience.