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B.C. premier says it's time to add value to province's forestry products

Last Updated Sep 27, 2019 at 1:15 pm PDT

FILE - B.C. Premier John Horgan, July 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

The government announced a $69 million aid program last week for communities and workers hurt by the industry downturn

Horgan spoke at the UBCM to delegates from around the province

VANCOUVER – Premier John Horgan says the government, lumber industry and communities in British Columbia need to refocus on getting more money out of provincial forests.

Dozens of forest companies have closed or curtailed operations in B.C. over what Horgan says is dwindling supply and an operating model that moves timber to market without tending to a renewable resource.

He told hundreds of delegates at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver that the forest industry has focused for too long on sending raw logs offshore without adding value.

“The forest industry needs more than our hope and our optimism,” Horgan said. “It also needs to focus on where markets are and how we can continue to prosper. We need to come together, community by community, timber supply area by timber supply area, and talk about what the future means in that region, in that area, and that town.”

Earlier on Friday, convention delegates approved a motion asking the province to reconsider its decision to transfer $25 million in funding from an economic development program for rural communities to a support program for forest workers.

The government announced a $69 million aid program last week for communities and workers hurt by the industry downturn.

Horgan said the funding diversion is not a cut and is intended to help people and communities in distress.

“We need to help now – that’s why the program was curtailed, not ended, curtailed. It will be back. We will monitor over the next number of months.”