B.C. Premier David Eby announced $50 million in funding Thursday to increase the fibre supply for the struggling pulp and paper industry.
Eby announced the cash injection at the annual Truck Loggers Association convention in Vancouver.
“We know that access to fibre is one of the most critical challenges facing the industry and we’re working hard to find new sources,” said Eby.
The funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC will aid in getting more wood and waste from logging to mills that require it, while also generating more work for forestry contractors by making it more feasible to access and transport fibre from remote locations, the Ministry of Forests said in a statement.
“This aligns with the government’s CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 and its focus on creating more well-paying jobs within the forestry industry,” the ministry said. The statement also touted the positive impact the investment will have on B.C. communities by keeping local mills running, while also addressing issues of wildfire risks and reducing carbon emissions.
With an investment of $50 million, FESBC will expand funding for projects and programs that increase the use of low-value or residual fibre, including trees damaged by recent wildfires and waste left over from logging that would otherwise be burned in slash piles.
The BC Pulp and Paper Coalition has been lobbying the government for this kind of money in order to solve a wood fibre shortage in B.C. that has resulted in the closure of many mills.
“I had a proposal I was going to submit tomorrow for exactly this over three years,” coalition spokesperson Joe Nemeth told CHEK News. “It looks like they give me year one exactly as I’ve asked. Now this needs to be a multiple year program so it’s a wonderful start, phenomenal start, and I hope, I pray that the actual intention in the announcement is consistent with what is actually available on the ground.”
Nemeth said the funding should be an important economic opportunity for First Nations and that it checks off three important boxes: social, environmental and economic.
He said Price Waterhouse Coopers recently determined that a $150 million investment by the province to retrieve discarded fibre could have a return worth billions of dollars.
Eby is expected to make another annoucement in Crofton Friday concerning the future of the local Paper Excellence mill.
“An important announcement about innovation at what was previously a shuttered pulp mill in that community and its projects, like that where they’re proposing to create wood cutlery to replace single-use plastic cutlery,” said Eby.