An opposition is forming against changing federal policy around log exports from our province. Last week Mosaic Forests and their unionized workforce reached an agreement in principle that approved changing federal log export policy.
But it turns out others aren’t on board and opposition is growing.
“I’m not against export but the wood should be available to manufacturers like us in the domestic market first,” said Kamal Sanghera, chief executive officer of the San Group.
Last week Mosaic and the United Steelworkers announced a deal to get it’s workers back on the job. Part of the agreement sees them calling on the government to make a temporary change to log export policy.
“What we’re asking from the federal government is to adjust their policy in a way that would allow timber producers including Mosaic from private land to export typically the same volumes they have over the past five years,” said Domenico Iannidinardo of Mosaic Forest Management in an interview Wednesday.
The change would allow Mosaic, for a portion of its trees, to bypass a board that determines if the logs are needed by BC sawmillers before exporting them internationally.
“If these changes happen what will happen to us is [there will be] less wood available to the locals like myself,” said Sanghera.
The San Group has invested hundreds of millions in its sawmills in Port Alberni. A value-added mill will start operating in the coming weeks and they plan on hiring 300 people in the next 60 days.
But to keep the mills running the company says it will need 500 percent more logs than it did last year.
“Hopefully by the end of this month or early next month we’ll be able to use close to 300,00-400,000 cubic meters per day [of] logs if it’s available,” said Sanghera.
Environmental group Wilderness Committee is also opposed to the proposed change.
“The Wilderness Committee would like to see us getting down to zero export of raw logs so we don’t want to protect the way we’ve been doing things. In our view, we’ve been doing things poorly. If we can not manufacture a tree here in the province into a wood product it shouldn’t be cut,” said Joe Foy
The San Group has signed a letter to B.C.’s premier opposing the change. It’s also signed by Coastland, Harmac, Paper Excellence among other companies.