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Log truck convoy arrives in Vancouver, driving home message about state of B.C. forest industry

Last Updated Sep 25, 2019 at 9:35 pm PDT

Summary

A convoy of as many as 200 logging trucks arrives in Vancouver today

Owners, drivers highlighting effects of dozens of mill closures, thousands of layoffs in B.C. forest industry

Convoy will be escorted into downtown Vancouver by police where politicians are meeting at the UBCM convention

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) —¬†Honking horns and demanding action — logging truck drivers have gathered outside the Vancouver Convention Centre to demand help for B.C.’s forest industry.

This follows as a¬†convoy of as many as 200 logging trucks is arriving in Vancouver today as owners and drivers highlight the effects from dozens of mill closures and thousands of layoffs in British Columbia’s forest industry.

The convoy made its way down Hastings, all the way to the Convention Centre where they circled the block, looking for a place to stop.

Drivers — and those taking transit through the area — are seeing some delays.

The procession began in Merritt, nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

It was escorted by police to downtown Vancouver where local and provincial politicians are gathered for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. A crowd people gathered at Canada Place to welcome the truckers as they arrived on Wednesday afternoon.

Merritt business owners and log haulers Howard McKimmon and Frank Etchart are organizing the convoy and say participants have come from all parts of the province.

McKimmon says they have lost work because sawmill closures mean they are no longer needed to carry logs to the mills. He says the effect of the forest industry downturn is widespread, disrupting businesses from barbers to grocery stores and everything in between.

Joan Atkinson, the mayor of Mackenzie, B.C., says hundreds of people lost their jobs in her district this summer.

“Large urban communities often do not recognize the contributions that small rural communities do to support their urban lifestyles and the amount of taxes that we send to Victoria to help fund this province,” she says, adding small town B.C. is suffering.

“[We’re] pretty dependent on the forestry industry and when the industry is in crisis like that, any help that we can get from anyone is much appreciated. But having said that, what I would like most is to get our workers back to work.”

The convoy participants are hoping to catch the attention of B.C’s local governments, gathered at the annual UBCM convention.

– With files from Ash Kelly, Ria Renouf and Lauren Boothby