WATCH: A new report shows the number of raw logs being exported from BC are at record levels.
But those who depend on the forestry industry say those exported logs represent an opportunity lost.
Kendall Hanson reports.
This shipment of raw logs left Port Alberni last week bound for Japan.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling for a ban on the export of raw logs from old growth forests.
The think tank is calling for the creation of more log-processing jobs in British Columbia.
Ben Parfitt says B.C. has exported nearly 26 million cubic metres of wood worth an estimated $3 billion since 2013.
“The concern that our organization has, and several environmental organizations, and labour organizations is that that’s a tremendous lost opportunity in terms of creating jobs here in British Columbia.”
This shipment of raw logs being loaded up in Nanaimo is also Asia-bound
The report says if just last year’s exports had been milled in BC instead of being exported, it would have meant an estimated 3600 more jobs for the province.
“I don’t think we’re going to get there unless we start to take a hard look at the exporting of those raw logs.
And figure out what policies we need to put in place to encourage more domestic manufacturing.”
The Catalyst mill, in Port Alberni, started a three day shutdown today.
The company blames a shortage of wood chips due to winter weather curtailing logging.
But the Union representing pulp mill workers says the export of raw logs also plays a role.
Gerald de Jong speaks for the Public & Private Workers of Canada, Local 8.
“Things will get worse and worse and worse as things go on if pulp mills can’t find their fibre.
They’re going to have to close down because they can’t afford to pay the price for it.”
Last month, NDP leader John Horgan promised to curb the trend, and have more raw logs milled in BC if elected in May.
“In my community of spoke increased traffic is coming through town with logs going past where the mill used to be going to Tidewater and going to mills offshore.
We need to stop that.”
But BC’s Forests Minister, Steve Thomson, says all raw logs must be offered for sale on the open market within BC before being exporting and a blanket ban would reduce jobs.
“Obviously, we’d like to see as many logs manufactured here as possible.
But we recognize with the economics of the industry that you need an integrated approach and raw log exports are part of that picture.”
The report recommends a complete ban on exporting raw logs from old growth forests and progressive taxes on second growth logs.
The authors claim that would spur investment in BC mills
But it also says the province needs to do more to encourage manufacturing in BC to ensure money and jobs aren’t simply being shipped away.