Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
Special Committee on Timber Supply
This is a DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY of debate in one sitting of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This transcript is subject to corrections, and will be replaced by the final, official Hansard report. Use of this transcript, other than in the legislative precinct, is not protected by parliamentary privilege, and public attribution of any of the debate as transcribed here could entail legal liability.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012
The committee met at 8:19 a.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Good morning, everyone. My name is John Rustad. I'm the MLA for Nechako Lakes and Chair of our Special Committee on Timber Supply. I'd like to welcome everybody this morning and thank you for coming out. We'll start off this morning with introductions, starting with Bill.
B. Routley: Good morning. My name is Bill Routley, MLA for Cowichan Valley.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Good morning. My name is Norm Macdonald. I'm the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke.
B. Stewart: Good morning. I'm Ben Stewart, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
D. Barnett: Good morning. I'm Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.
E. Foster: Good morning. I'm Eric Foster. I'm the MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
J. Rustad (Chair): Travelling with us we have two special advisers that have been appointed to our committee, former chief foresters Jim Snetsinger and Larry Pedersen.
Also with us are Susan Sourial, who is our Committee Clerk, and Jacqueline Quesnel at the back of the room. If anybody is doing a presentation or would like to be considered for an open mike, please make sure you check in with Jacqueline at the back so that she can know whether you're here. She sort of controls the flow as to how the whole process could work.
Also, everything that this committee does is recorded by Hansard and broadcast live on the Internet. So today we have Hansard staff with us, Michael Baer and Jean Medland.
The Timber Supply Committee was struck in May with a mandate to look at the mountain pine beetle epidemic and try to come up with any potential mitigation strategies that we could find to minimize the downfall of the AAC.
The issue of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, as most people are very aware, has been going on for quite some time. The falldown is estimated in a number of years out, depending on the various supply areas that you're in. The overall impact once it's all done is estimated to be somewhere between 53 and 56 percent of the pine in the province dead. Through the areas that are impacted, which are from the Smithers-Houston area down to 100 Mile House or into Kamloops-Merritt, it's estimated to be a drop of about ten million cubic metres per year. To put that in another perspective, that's equivalent to about eight sawmills. What we've been tasked to do is see if there are ways that we can minimize that particular impact.
Part of the task of the committee is to go out and engage with communities across the area. Our first week we travelled from Smithers through to Valemount, including Fort St. James and Mackenzie. This week we have been down in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake. This morning we are in Quesnel, and this afternoon we will be in Prince George. We also took a field trip on Wednesday here in the Quesnel area to go out and have a look at some of the practices that are happening out on the land, as well as to get a feel for some of the issues that we'll be looking at and discussing.
Next week we have three days of public consultation on the 9th, 10th and 11th — provincial consultation, that is — down in Vancouver, and then we will wrap up on the 12th with a tour through to Merritt and Kamloops.
People can submit information to our committee through our website in a written form up until July 20. That website is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee.
As I said, people have until July 20 to submit to us. At that point we'll be compiling all the information that we've heard. We'll be sitting down and entering into some deliberations, and then our final report has to be completed to the Legislature by August 15.
I'd also like to recognize today that the local MLA here. Bob Simpson is present for our meeting here today. Thank you for joining us today, Bob. I believe the chief forester, Dave Peterson, is also sitting here, joining with us. He has been travelling around the province with us. Of course, any recommendations that come forward that the ministry decides to enact or move upon — ultimately, Dave is going to be the guy responsible for trying to figure out how to do it.
The consultation process in each community. We start off with a discussion with mayor and councils. We'll then go into a discussion with the local First Nations, and then it will be open for public consultation.
After having said all those introductions, welcome, Mayor Mary Sjostrom. I'll turn it over to you to introduce the people you have with you.
M. Sjostrom: Thank you very much for this opportunity and for all of you giving of your time. Today I'm joined by a couple of colleagues, and I hope there's no one else in the audience: Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg and Coun. Ed Coleman, as well as our director of finance and acting city manager, Kari Bolton. As well, we have several other staff from the city of Quesnel in the audience.
What I'd like to do is start out by giving you just a very brief history for those of you that might not be familiar with our forest history and the proud community that we are, because we are an extremely forest-based community.
Quesnel was incorporated as a municipality in 1928, and around this time the lumber industry began to flourish. In fact, it was interesting to note that during that time, there were more than a hundred sawmills in the area, and that is certainly significant.
Another point of interest. During the Second World War, Quesnel's Patchett and Sons sawmill was responsible for providing some birch for the Mosquito bomber assembly. So we certainly do go a long way back in history.
Quesnel continued to grow through the second half of the century. The 1970s and early '80s saw significant industrial investment in our community with ongoing investments that we've seen and that have been made throughout the region in the mid-2000s.
Quesnel's economy, as I've said, is driven by the forest industry. Major industrial operations in the city include two pulp mills, three large sawmills, a plywood plant, a medium-density fibreboard plant, value-added production and others. Of course, supporting these operations, like you see in other communities, are numerous independent logging contractors, silviculture and many small businesses that are designed to support the needs of major industry.
In the past few years, however, Quesnel has experienced firsthand the results of the mountain pine beetle infestation in combination with the changing global economic conditions. Shift layoffs and plant shutdowns and a permanent mill closure have all taken place in our community.
Stakeholders are now travelling further into the forest to harvest economically viable wood. The data that we have received indicates that this is just the beginning of this. Quesnel is certainly at, we feel, the epicentre of the mountain pine beetle infestation, which peaked in 2005. Our hearts went out to those communities that suffered that fire. We feel that we've had this fire here for quite some time, and we're really concerned about it as well.
The dead pine that remains is rapidly losing its value for lumber production, but it may have a value, we're hoping, for pellet production and cogeneration of electricity. Silviculture investments and innovations, we feel, will play a large role as we make plans for 50, 75 and 100 years out for our community.
We know that we're facing challenging times with the potential effects of the pine beetle, but we also know that this is not a surprise for us. As local government, we really can only control so much. I think you can appreciate that. We can lobby you as government and other levels of government. We can control our costs as a community. We can provide the quality services that our residents expect. But we really want to be part of this process. We want to be able to deliver that message to those folks that live in our communities.
That's why, as a city council, we're committed to sustainability in all our planning of our top strategic objectives in our community. We're hosting community discussions at this time with our Quesnel process, because we're building a sustainable plan over the next several years. We really don't want to just be thinking of three years as local government. We want to plan for 20, 30 and 40 years out.
We meet regularly with our local industry stakeholders to get updates from them with regard to their working in the forest. We do have a good working relationship, whether it's small or large. We're willing to work with the senior levels of government. We want to be a meaningful partner in this dialogue. I say that not just today, but as we move forward. I think we need to address where this committee will go and what information is going to be received here and throughout your travels. We want to be part of that.
As we continue to focus on diversifying our economy, I want to really make note of our Quesnel Community Economic Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the city of Quesnel. We continue to pursue reinvestment in our community — mining, agricultural, bioenergy. It will enable us to bring wealth generators to the province like we have done in so many years past. It will also support us for decades to come, so we're looking for, certainly, support for that.
By investing in our communities and our forest now, we feel that we can mitigate the economic and social impacts that could arise in the future. As a local government we've done a great deal in the interests of our taxpayer, and we will continue to make every effort in our city to make sure that we remain vibrant and desirable to live in.
When it comes to community sustainability, I don't think it can be overstated how critical it is to maintain community stability not just in Quesnel but in all the communities that are experiencing significant change. Steady employment, equitable and effective municipal taxation continue to enhance our positive quality of life. These are all very critical in helping our community to adapt and embrace the changing environments.
We support a sustainable forest. We support sustainable job industry. We certainly have great consideration for the environment. When you're making your decisions, I know that all this will be taken into consideration.
It's not appropriate, we believe, to make decisions based solely upon a short-term way of thinking. True life-cycle determinations are needed across all facets of all our communities. It will be critical that our communities be actively engaged in this process. I once again want to applaud the provincial government and this team that's sitting here today for the special committee that was set up, initiating what I see as the first step of a very comprehensive round of public engagement.
I really believe that the ongoing requirement will be…. It will probably outlast the terms of reference of this committee. For our community and for the confidence of the people that we represent, reports are fine, but I really think we need to make sure that we communicate. We would very much like to be part of that opportunity, and we want to be a valued partner. We don't want to just hear about it now and again. We sincerely want to be part of it.
Local governments are the closest to the ground that you folks know, so we connect with those people every day. When they hear of these various reports and different things, you know, they think about their jobs. And it's very difficult, as local government. I have a colleague that was on the ground before she became in the provincial government…. We want to make sure that our community feels safe and that they feel confident in what their local government and other levels of government are doing.
It's clear that our community, like many others, has grown very heavily reliant on this single industry. If our forest had remained healthy, perhaps we could have continued down the path that we have. But we always think it's wise to plan for the worst and hope for the best. We're very optimistic in Quesnel, and we know that there are some changes coming. We will accept that, and we will work towards making sure that our community continues to thrive.
Diversified communities will be the strongest, and we want to improve access and training. Transportation networks and infrastructure will benefit many industries, not only the forest industry — both the current ones and the ones that are looking to innovators and leaders in the forest industry, as well as other economies.
Any decision that this task force makes could have the capacity to provide benefits to one community over another. I think we really need to consider that one size does not fit all. It'll be critical not to pit the communities against one another, and I'm sure you're very, very aware of that because it is a very competitive market.
Jobs, innovations and creative thinking in the spirit of cooperation will be required to combat this. I want to say again — and I know that each and every one of you knows this — that one size does not fit all.
Forestry has long been a domain of the provincial government, which ultimately will be responsible for this decision-making. But that said, it will be vitally important to have the input from the relative stakeholders to be considered equally and without bias.
In addition — and I think the committee has heard this as a commonality in the communities it has visited — communities need to be meaningfully engaged and consulted before and during the decision-making process. I know I've repeated myself a couple of times, but I just really want to send that message home — how important it is to us, as local communities that are affected by the forest industry, to be part of it. I mean, when I say that, as having meaningful discussion.
The city of Quesnel, as I said, is very forest-dependent for our employment and our tax base. Currently 62 percent of our municipal taxation, which equates to $8.1 million, comes from the major forest industry. The forest industry is the backbone of this city's economy through direct employment, suppliers and associated spinoff employment. Our most recent figures show that we have approximately 1,900 people working and directly employed in the major industrial operators within the city limits and with an annual payroll of $125 million.
These figures do not include the logging firms, the trucking companies, contractors and many of the varied spinoff jobs that are a direct result of being home to North America's largest concentration of wood-manufacturing facilities. Any significant changes to the forest industry, of course, will have a significant effect on the city of Quesnel and its surrounding community.
In Quesnel we've certainly seen our challenges in the forest industry before, but through it all, Quesnel remains home to a very optimistic population — one that's not afraid to face these challenges. We are and want to continue to be innovative and to seize those opportunities as they present themselves.
Quesnel's people are certainly showing a desire to move to more sustainable practices and principles. With the right investment in the right projects, an opportunity for our transition, as we see it, towards a more sustainable community is certainly possible. I would allude to a project that the Nazko First Nation is working towards with three-phase power. That would make a significant difference not only to the city of Quesnel but our region, and we do think regionally when we talk as the city of Quesnel.
Some of the forecast job losses could possibly be mitigated through retraining of the workforce for employment in new, innovative and emerging industries. I draw your attention to this gorgeous building that we have with our new trades and technology, and we thank everybody who was part of that. This really will make a difference and will assist us. You know, it also allows our workers to remain, be retrained, get more education and stay in our community. I think that is so important for every community.
Another worthwhile consideration is possibly a system of pension-bridging that those close to retirement could consider, opening those positions for other members of our community.
In addition, we continue to work as a collaborative and individually with our three pine beetle coalitions and on the mitigating strategies that were developed. I see that possibly some adjustment can be made on that. Currently with our CCBAC, we've been dealing with a lot of projects, and regional projects, which are certainly good. As a community, I would maybe like to see some of that money coming directly to our community. That's certainly more discussion we could have in the future. But I feel, as we have to be innovative in our community, that would certainly assist.
Finally, I just want to say that the city…. We continually stand, and we jointly support the provincial government in the promise that was made several years ago of $1 billion over ten years, promised by the federal government to address this situation and the priorities associated with the epidemic. I think this would help go a long way to create new jobs. I know money is tight, but I think we still need to, wherever we can, continue to support and lobby you.
As far as projects are concerned. A streamlined, while still responsible and methodical, approach to these projects in the different sectors…. We talk about mining and agriculture. We could attract economic diversification for our region. We have to do due diligence, but I think a more intensive and focused project approval process could be significant as our communities face these challenges. We've certainly looked to any economic opportunity.
I've had the opportunity to travel not only to China but to Japan. On these trips we are looking for investment not only into our community and region but into the province. As has been witnessed…. When we talk about safety, over the past five years we've been very susceptible to forest fires. In 2010, especially in the Cariboo regional district, we had massive areas that were consumed by fire.
In addition, the dead trees — they no longer require water. It's increasing erosion and flood concerns, so the sooner we feel that the forests are regenerated and the sooner the forests are productive and safe, it will be better for all of us. So we support that.
With regard to inventory, there appears to be some mixed opinions regarding the current forest inventories and whether they're actually suitable for making the decisions that we need to make. If it's determined that they're not, then in our opinion, we need to expedite the program to gather these inventories, which must be undertaken to ensure the government can make suitable decisions with regard to the land base.
We also support an appropriate funding mechanism and value that could be set as part of a core function of forest management in British Columbia. Around silviculture, we echo the concerns that have been relayed in other forest-dependent communities. Immediate and significant investment in silviculture, we believe, is required now to ensure our long-term sustainability and viability of the forest industry.
We also would like to suggest maybe a consideration of adjusting rotation ages in range of planting, possibly from 45 to 80 years. I know there's a larger window out there. I certainly don't want to profess that we're making recommendations of something that we don't support, but we've been in communication with several of our stakeholders, and we want to support them in every avenue.
We feel that we need to make every effort to find ways to assist in what we are doing now but also to make more efforts to find the harvesting of the mountain pine beetle more economical for our current industries. When we talk about transportation and distances, that's a consideration we'd like you to take into your report.
In addition, we need to determine methods of just how much is possible while the pine beetle still remains of merchantable value. The wood becomes, as we all know, less valuable and more costly to process every day, so this is a consideration.
We also would like to foster creativity and embrace new ideas and changes to the policies and practices that spur innovation in how our forests are managed. The cost to stakeholders should also be reviewed and adjusted appropriately.
A sweeping set of recommendations for the entire province may not be as effective as a series of decisions made based on each community's values, circumstances, the state of the forest. While logging in areas that have traditionally been protected due to visual concerns, it will likely not be palatable for green stands. But who's to say that a visual stand of dead timber could not be harvested and aggressively reforested to return the visual characteristics for future generations to enjoy? I know that's certainly something that will cause a lot of communication and dialogue.
I believe that communities need to rally together not only individually but collectively and through our member associations in an ongoing process of public consultation, education and engagement. We can share best practices and the original concepts far better collectively than working in isolation from one another.
This is likely to be a more significant challenge that the current generation in this community will face, but we believe that communities need to take charge of their future, be meaningfully engaged in any decision-making process and have an active say in how recommendations are enacted. Updates to the affected communities, too — we'd certainly like to hear some feedback once you've gathered all your information.
Communities must better understand the role that the forests play not only on the economic side but also on the environmental, ecological, social and cultural values. We must better understand the effects of the changing current restraints and what it actually means for each of our communities not only for this generation but for those folks who are going to call Quesnel home for the next 30, 40 or 50 years and beyond that. Only through education and awareness, we believe, can we make the right sustainable choices moving forward.
As a province, we must learn, I believe, from this mountain pine beetle infestation and apply it elsewhere in forest practices. I think we see that we're being challenged by other insects, and we need to take this and really not just write it off as something that started in 2005. But I sincerely say that I think we all need to learn from this, and we need to put some best practices in place.
The current model of study, consultation and decision-making being conducted by this special committee will certainly provide a valuable learning experience for this and for the forest sector. I don't believe it should be discarded as simply a local or regional challenge. I was asked what I see in the future for the information-gathering. I think we need to build on it, and I'm sure there are ideas out there that we can collaborate on as a region.
In closing, I just want to say although the transition plans that we have all talked about…. I know it's not part of this committee's mandate, but I believe a transition strategy for those communities that are affected by this mountain pine beetle infestation really need to be the next step as we move together collectively.
Thank you very much for listening and for the opportunity.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Mary.
I'll just look to Laurey or Ed, if you wanted to add any comments, or Kari.
E. Coleman: I think the key is the transition planning and concrete projects on the ground that will diversify our local economy. We definitely need further investment down the hall here, with the trades-training pressures.
We really appreciate the investment to date, but you know, the investment framework is now. It's not five years from now; it is now. The transition planning is now, not five years from now. It really needs to be on the local intelligence level and then out to the regions as well.
But you know, it is critical that we work together and get the solid planning so that we can take advantage of all the opportunities. There are lots of unanswered questions around the economics, but we need to look at those questions and see what investments can drive the economics out further so that we can gain more time to look at our diversification and, again, keep the long term healthy for the generations to come.
We've got a great land base. We want that land base well managed so that 100 years from now, this community thrives with the same industry it's had from its conception.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just before I go to questions, as I mentioned earlier, we did a field tour out and took a look at some of the heavily impacted areas. I was very surprised at the amount of green that was left, as well as the understorey and how that was coming along. So I'm looking forward to seeing the new inventory information that comes out with regards to that. I suspect it may be a little optimistic, but we'll see how it comes out.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. Very well done.
I think that over the years we have been well aware of what is happening down the road, since the early 2000s, and we've paid attention. I have one question. You are on the pine beetle coalition. You are a member. Your comment about local versus regional — I'd like you to explain what the issue is there.
M. Sjostrom: I don't see it as an issue, Donna. I'm absolutely very supportive of working regionally. I think this is important, but I do believe we could help, say, the Economic Development Corporation that does a tremendous job for us. If we were allowed to work with some of those funds within our community directly, I think that would prove more of a benefit to us.
Absolutely, I'm a supporter of regionalization, and some of the projects we've done have been absolutely incredible, which we will build on. To me it doesn't matter whether it's in 100 Mile, Williams Lake, Quesnel or Wells. I think that as long as we're working in the region, that's great.
We also have projects and some initiatives that we could work on if we had a little bit more money that we could put towards that, so that's where I would like to go.
D. Barnett: And just one more thing. The mandate of the BACs is that you're the decision-makers, basically. Just so you're clear that it is not a provincial policy. It is up to the boards to decide where the money goes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just a bit of an eclectic set of questions. First, with the beetle action committee. Even though it's locally controlled, it's a government response, often, to transition along with some of the trusts. Going forward, what are the things that you would say to the committee about support for the BACs going forward? Are they resourced? What are the things that we need to think about as you go through transition?
M. Sjostrom: I think they should continue to be resourced, but I also think it's possibly something that we need to look at — whether there needs to be some changes in the structure of those BACs.
As MLA Barnett has alluded to, it is up to the BAC. I think that if there is support from the provincial government, possibly after five or six years we need to analyze what's been accomplished, which we're doing on the ground now, and whether that money could be better used in different ways. I guess we can start by making recommendations as BACs whether we can improve on that.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. The $800 million that you talked about, the federal money that didn't appear. Is there any sense — I mean, you've probably talked many times with federal officials — that that's still on the table? Any chance? And if so, what would it take from the province to put that back on the table? What's your sense on that?
M. Sjostrom: Well, my sense is that I don't know how lucky we would be, but you don't know if you don't ask. I don't have all the details that certainly the provincial government would have. But I just feel that was a commitment that was made, and I believe that in our best interests we should continue to try and see what would be available.
Certainly, we communicate quite frequently with our MP, and we feel that commitment was made. We would like to support, as much as we can locally, to ensure that if any more of that money can flow into the provincial government and then out to local government.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So 62 percent of the tax base is on forestry. What is the industrial tax multiplier that you have here?
M. Sjostrom: I'm going to refer to Ms. Bolton.
K. Bolton: I believe it's 17.4 — somewhere around that range.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. So have you followed some of the provincial discussions around industrial tax and participated in that?
K. Bolton: Absolutely, we're following.
M. Sjostrom: On that, we have a policy, the city of Quesnel, that was adopted by Quesnel city council, which we look at on an annual basis during our budget time. We look at a possible shift of up to 1 percent away from heavy industry onto all other classes. We haven't been as successful as we would like, because as you know, when you work with a collective body, you need to have that support to do that.
We have made some shift, but we certainly haven't made the significant shift that some of us would like to have. It's a council of seven members, so you move forward accordingly. But we have adopted that. We've followed and did make presentations when UBCM was part of that.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just one last question. I think MLA Rustad has already commented on it. I think we were up here in 2007 with Bob Simpson. We went up to Dunkley and went over an area devastated by pine beetle. It was hard to look at. The tour we had more recently — it's surprising how resilient the forest seems to be in terms of greening up. It offers some degree of optimism as to what's growing there.
On the tour a number of times, as you have, we had things put forward. One was the three-phase power. Do you have a sense of the cost that we're talking about for a project like that?
M. Sjostrom: I understand that an analysis is being done at this particular time by B.C. Hydro.
Ed, do you remember the dollar figure?
E. Coleman: Yeah. The preliminary figure is between $40 million and $50 million. But again, that's a technical area that we're not privy to. What we do know is that three-phase power out of our community in any direction is going to benefit diversification and then the road systems that go with that — creating circle routes within the region so that all the communities can share the industry that wants to go forward in this area.
It's a matter of diversification. Transportation and power are huge if we're going to diversify.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I presume that the beetle action committee…. Work is done within there sort of with a set of ideas that are collected. That's the place that the ideas are collected, and action plans are….
E. Coleman: I think what's happening in our community….. We have a First Nation that's at stage 4 of the treaty process, and our other First Nations are working hard on their futures. It's a partnership amongst all the citizens in our area. A lot of the recent work is coming from the grass roots of our community.
We recognize that we need to be sustainable. We recognize that we've got positive partners to be sustainable — all our First Nations communities, all the industries that have been here for over a hundred years. You know, the Barkerville framework — the 150th anniversary.
We see the past positives, but we recognize we have to get on the future concretes and very soon. Power and transportation really affect the opportunities for diversification and the economics, when you're talking about transporting anything around the region — whether it's from a mine or a tree for processing.
M. Sjostrom: If I could, John, I'd just like to add to that. We thought that this was very unique in the way that so often we go to First Nations. The First Nations came to us, and collectively, as the city of Quesnel and the Cariboo regional district, we supported this gateway initiative. Our goal is to work with the provincial government on this.
We saw that as four levels of government — three levels of government, I guess, if you include the local — working together. We found that extremely unique because that doesn't often happen.
J. Rustad (Chair): We're out of time, but we've got two more questions, so try to keep it very quick.
B. Stewart: Thanks very much, Mayor Sjostrom and council, for the excellent overview.
Looking around at forest-dependent communities, and I would categorize Quesnel very much being in that category, we talk about the issues. We're encouraged by the mid-term timber supply that we see out there on the ground. I guess with an economic development, that diversification, which is one of the priorities…. I know that it's talked about a lot. Certainly, one of the challenges that I think the community faces is the high level of industrial taxation in terms of attracting other people into the community.
This clearly came to the forefront a few years ago when we had Mackenzie as a good example, where really their industrial users had completely shut down and didn’t know whether they were going to open up. I'm sure it wasn't much different here.
I guess what I'm looking to ask you is: what's happening in your community to really take the bit in your teeth with economic development and try to find some diversification? I know that the BACs have done a lot of work in opportunities in trying to do that. We keep coming back to money, and I guess that's the problem. For everybody, that seems to be the root of all the solutions.
I guess what we're really looking at is: what is it going to take to find other diversity and economic opportunity to help diversify? Is there anything in the near term, or is there anything that has been identified which you really feel is a barrier for the community to move ahead?
L. Roodenburg: Well, I can give a very quick example. We just did a week's tour in Japan. Of the two places that we visited, one was a veneer plant that has some contact with Quesnel, and they're looking for birch. There's an opportunity there to try and do some kind of a birch supply, and they're looking for it now. We also looked at an agricultural co-op around the type of berries that they grow there.
Those are some of the opportunities that we've been out looking at and that we can bring back to this community and that could have some kind of an impact. Even though they're small, it starts to change what and who we are here. Those are just some very quick examples of some of the things we're doing right now.
M. Sjostrom: Just to get back to the industrial taxation piece, this is what I alluded to. You know, you need to have the political will. It's got to be at the ground level. We're certainly the ones that have the ability to change that, but you have to have a collective to want to do that. Also, then you have your residents. Over time it certainly has shifted, and we know all about that. But it's: how do we get it shifted back? Certainly as mayor, I'm committed to do that, but we need to be able to figure out how we can do that in balance.
As far as the provincial and federal governments are concerned, I think that any reduction of red tape that can allow for some of this investment in diversification would help. We so often hear how long it takes, and local government isn't any different. When you're in business for yourself, you make that decision. You have the money, and you move forward. We take a little bit longer.
I think any shortness of time allowing people to move forward, if there is that opportunity, because whether it's the mining and agriculture sector…. Maybe I'll send you the strategies from our Economic Development Corporation that we've put together.
J. Rustad (Chair): We're out of time, but I wouldn't mind a quick comment from you. Does Quesnel have a community forest, or have you ever pursued a community forest? And what are your thoughts on area-based management versus a volume-based management system? I know Quesnel has a TFL. One of the operators has a TFL in the area as well. Just if you can, some quick comments around that.
M. Sjostrom: No, we have never had — I don't believe, to my knowledge — a community forest. That was certainly something that was raised earlier. I believe we have all our stakeholders in the community. It's not something that personally I believe we need to have endeavour on. We have several woodlots as well. We have a large amount of woodlots, and I support the industry that's here, not local government getting involved in that.
What was the other?
J. Rustad (Chair): Just on area-based management — maybe that's kind of a technical question, so I understand if you don't want to comment to it — around the TFL that you have versus the other operating areas, and any thoughts around that.
M. Sjostrom: Okay. My colleague wants to answer that.
E. Coleman: Well, I think any kind of longer-term commitment enables a company to be more stable and get the financing it needs to do the innovations it wants. When you're looking at those longer-term commitments, it's looking at the entire land base and managing that over time, because in some respects, if you make that decision, you're putting someone else out of business.
With any kind of methodology so that companies can plan and have more stable operations — whether it's contractors or companies — definitely, there are benefits to that. There are benefits to the community, too, because the investments they make in those longer-term land bases — you know, the silviculture investments, the innovations they start to put to bear…. There's great benefit to that as well.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for taking some time, for presenting to us, and we look forward to working with you in the future.
M. Sjostrom: It was our pleasure, and thank you very, very much. Good luck.
J. Rustad (Chair): We're going to go straight on to our next presenters.
Welcome, Gerry Powell and Brad Bennett with Nazko First Nation.
B. Bennett: Just to clarify, I'm Brad Bennett with Pacific BioEnergy. I'm here basically working on some joint projects with Nazko, and I'm here to support Gerry.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay, thank you. Over to you, Gerry.
G. Powell: My name is Gerry Powell. I'm the manager of the Nazko Economic Development Corp., and I also manage the logging operation for Nazko.
Chief Delores Alec was not able to attend today, but she has a presentation that I've been asked to make on her behalf and council. After her statement, I have a few other things to talk about specific to the land base and what we're actually trying to do with our partner, Pacific BioEnergy, out in the Nazko area.
I want to welcome you to the southern Carrier territory. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to make some comments to this committee. I'll make some general comments and then provide some detail from a forestry professional's perspective.
Nazko First Nation is a community of nearly 350 members, most of whom reside either on our reserves in the Nazko Valley or in Quesnel. Nazko First Nation, like all the communities in this area, is heavily reliant on the forests. We rely on the forest first and foremost to sustain our way of life and our ability to exercise our aboriginal rights, including our right to hunt, trap, fish, harvest plants and medicines, and engage in ceremonial and spiritual practices. They're all dependent on healthy forests.
From an economic perspective we have been reliant on Nazko Logging, our wholly owned logging operation in one of the first and longest-lasting First Nation–owned forestry businesses in the province. Nazko Logging manages our own forest licences as well as acting as a contractor for the major licensees in the Quesnel area.
The mountain pine beetle has been devastating to the health of our community. We have lost forests directly from beetle kill and also from the increased logging that has been authorized in our territory in response to the beetle. The increase in the AAC has meant more logging and less planning. Less consideration has been paid to environmental protections and to the ability of our members to exercise their rights.
Fewer intact forests mean a reduction of productive habitat for the species of animals that our people rely on. Increased forest activity has put tremendous pressure on our lands, water and resources.
The forestry agreements that we have with British Columbia do not provide us with enough of a say in the decisions that are being made with respect to the forests in our territory. The revenue-sharing in those agreements is also completely inadequate to address the impacts that this devastation and the response of government has had on our economy and on our livelihood.
My message today is simple. Any decisions made by British Columbia with regard to how to manage the timber supply must be made collaboratively with Nazko First Nation. Please notice the use of the word "collaboration," not "consultation."
Nazko First Nation is progressing in the treaty process and has recently received a commitment from the province of British Columbia to negotiate a shared decision-making model for land and resource use decisions within our territory. This model needs to be applied now, and it needs to be applied to the types of major decisions being contemplated by this committee. Nazko First Nation has tremendous knowledge and experience in forestry and forest management, and we need to be fully involved in the decision-making process.
My second message is that Nazko First Nation must have meaningful and substantive access to forestry opportunities that arise as a result of decisions relating to timber supply. We have been told that we are on top of the list for a First Nations woodland tenure, but we have not yet received one.
Our forestry staff has laid out areas that are prime for our control. Management plans are in production. We need access to these areas. Who better to manage the resource sustainably and to benefit from its use? We have sat back and waited for too long while our resources leave our territory. This needs to change, and it needs to change now.
We do not have our heads in the sand. We understand that forestry is changing. We are working very hard to diversify our economy in response to those realities. In a few minutes you'll be hearing about our initiative, along with our partner, Pacific BioEnergy, to develop an industrial park at Nazko that will add value to the beetle-killed resource and stimulate our economy and the economy of the entire region.
Our plan is to create a hub for development in the Nazko Valley, not only for forestry but for power production, mining, geothermal and other emerging opportunities. If the province is serious about timber supply and how to maximize benefit from the forests, it will support initiatives like ours and extend the life of the resource and bring benefits to the local communities. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee.
That was the end of Chief Delores Alec's statement.
Just a little bit more information, then, about Nazko and the land base. The Nazko First Nation community is located 100 kilometres west of Quesnel. It has been greatly impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Nazko is a resource community. Wildfire is also a concern, as the Nazko communities have been evacuated twice in the last seven years due to large wildfires. Nazko holds two non-replaceable forest licences and is working with a local forest district on a First Nation woodlands tenure.
Nazko First Nation would like to provide the following for consideration on the mid-term timber supply: the forest and associated resources — wildlife, fish, water, etc. — must be managed in a sustainable manner to ensure the long-term viability of these resources for future generations.
A forest estate plan must be completed before considering modifying constraints currently in place on the land base, as many of the constrained areas serve to meet multiple resource management objectives. Prior to any modification decisions, there needs to be a determination as to whether the constraints are functioning as intended.
An example might be a landscape unit that is largely young plantation with some old-growth management areas comprised of mainly beetle-killed pine. Is there a greater risk for wildfire in the beetle-kill reserve area that would burn existing plantation, causing greater pressure on the mid-term timber supply, or are the old-growth areas still meeting the resource management objectives for the landscape unit?
The stands available for harvest need to be assessed as fibre stands and not just as sawlog stands. More effort has to be made to provide viable options, such as relieving the licence holder of reforestation obligations or a shared reforestation model in marginal timber stands to encourage utilizing the fibre that is currently not suitable for sawlog. This would provide greater opportunity in marginally economic timber stands and help relieve the public concern that not enough is being done to reforest mountain pine beetle–killed stands.
The First Nations must have a greater role in the management of the resource in their traditional territory, in both utilization and planning aspects. We need to move beyond the activity-by-activity referrals and discuss the issues and concerns on at least the watershed and landscape level. The benefit to this approach will have efficiencies for all parties involved.
There needs to be investment in infrastructure to support the move towards a broader spectrum of use of fibre by industry in communities such as Nazko. This will provide a cost-effective delivery of wood fibre to manufacturing facilities.
This will also enable new manufacturing capacity to utilize non-sawlog fibre and ensure the continued viability of the Quesnel area sawmills through the optimization of sawlogs from the dead pine resource. This will make a significant contribution to the Quesnel TSA mid-term timber fibre supply by ensuring the immediate harvest and regeneration of beetle-killed stands.
Without these manufacturing investments, it's not likely that this timber will be harvested. As a result, regeneration and support for the mid-term timber supply will be delayed. Stimulate the Nazko First Nation economy through development of Nazko-owned lands and through partnership and equity in the business.
The Nazko First Nation has been working for the last three years to bring diversified economic development to the Nazko First Nation, to the Nazko Valley and to Quesnel through the development of an industrial park on a site in close proximity to the main Nazko First Nation reserve. Along with its partner, Pacific BioEnergy Ltd., Nazko First Nation has developed a proposal that would mitigate the significant shortage of economically accessible timber supply to existing facilities, would create over 300 direct and indirect jobs and would create a hub of short-, medium- and long-term development in the Nazko Valley.
The benchmark tenant in this development is a pellet plant to be built and operated by Pacific BioEnergy and that will be designed to have a 300,000-tonne-per-year production capacity. The operation of the plant would enable access to the significant mountain pine beetle–affected supply west of Nazko, would extend the viability of the existing sawmills in Quesnel, would employ and train Nazko First Nation members and would spur a multitude of spinoff businesses in the region.
The key missing element in developing the Nazko industrial park is electricity infrastructure. Nazko has existing single-phase service from B.C. Hydro, but this infrastructure is insufficient to power the large motors required in an industrial complex.
Higher-capacity three-phase power is required. Developing three-phase power infrastructure in the Nazko Valley would require construction of an approximately 107-kilometre-long 69-kV transmission line. We're saying around $25 million capital costs from Quesnel to the Nazko industrial park.
The key element of the project is that the wood pellet sector is an emerging product that has proven to utilize and support the economics of utilizing logging slash as a primary raw material source. It is well documented that the worldwide market for pellets is currently 35 million cubic metres and, fueled by the conversion away from the use of fossil fuels for electrical power, generation is expected to exceed 150 million cubic metres by 2020.
The power line investment will make a significant contribution to enhancing the economic accessibility to the mountain pine beetle timber in the Quesnel TSA and will both ensure immediate harvest and regeneration of dead standing timber and provide an ongoing supply of sawlogs to the Quesnel area sawmills.
The project would further provide a platform for further economic development in the area, including potential investment in biomass-based electrical power generation.
The status of this project currently is that the Nazko Power Group has had consistent discussions with senior representatives of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation; the Ministry of Energy and Mines; and the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. Several discussions with B.C. Hydro representatives have also taken place.
Owing to the timelines caused by the deterioration of the resource, the opportunity to maximize economic and environmental benefits of accessing this timber west of Nazko is now. The Nazko Power Group has commissioned and circulated a detailed business case for the project. We have this report for you people to look at. The Nazko Power Group has commissioned the consulting firm Terra Tech to generate a transmission line cost assessment and an environmental report. These reports will also be provided.
Additionally, the group has submitted a load interconnection request to B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Hydro is in the process of completing the feasibility report on the cost of the interconnection preliminary system impact study. This preliminary system impact study is expected to be completed by early August.
Our next step is we need to confirm the support of the provincial government and B.C. Hydro through a confirmation of viability of the transmission line on identified timelines. The need for a timely commitment to the project is to provide a sufficient investment window for the wood pellet facility.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present this to you.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. Brad, would you like to add anything?
B. Bennett: Just a couple of quick comments. Pacific BioEnergy — obviously, in the wood pellet business we have one of the largest facilities in the world, essentially, in Prince George. It consumes roughly 350,000 oven-dried tonnes or roughly 800,000 cubic metres of wood biomass. We make wood pellets. We ship it north, Vancouver. That facility is a third owned by a European utility called GDF Suez, which is one of the largest power utilities in the world, with gross sales of over $125 billion euros a year.
We obviously believe in the wood pellet business. In 2008 we purchased a forest licence in the Quesnel area of 700,000 cubic metres for 15 years. It was targeted for the construction of a non-lumber facility.
Essentially, the strategy was to develop a new industry in the area that would use the falldown material. Our facility in Prince George — 50 percent of the raw material that it currently uses is essentially logging slash or waste that's left over from the mountain pine beetle.
As Gerry said, we've been working with the Nazko First Nation, who have another 300,000 cubic metres. Between us…. Essentially, we're not asking for wood. We have the wood. What we need to do is improve the economics of the western part of the Quesnel TSA. We think one of the ways of doing that is to put in a power line.
As Gerry said, we're down the road a fair ways. We've completed a study for Minister Bell, which we'll give to you, that basically verifies the 350 jobs and, again, the extension of the shelf life of the wood in the western part of the Quesnel TSA.
We've invested a fair amount of money, also, in the analysis of what the cost of the power line is, and we're also in the stages of completing a system impact study, as Gerry mentioned, with B.C. Hydro.
The key thing here is that the trees, even from a biomass perspective, are going to get to a point where they're going to fall down. As much as this issue has obviously been in front of us for quite a number of years, to invest in a wood pellet facility out of Nazko, we need to have a very clear ten-year wood supply window, even as it relates to biomass. The longer it takes…. The window closes very quickly, and the viability of doing this essentially goes away.
Anyway, I have a presentation on Monday to give to you guys, so I don't want to give you too much information. I'll tell you all the good things about the wood pellet business on Monday. How's that?
J. Rustad (Chair): Sounds great.
Questions from members.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. The documentation that you have made public so far I have been presented by the Cariboo regional district. I have discussed it, also, with the ministry. I'm anxiously waiting to see the rest of your business plan.
I think that your objectives out here in the valley are great. We did go out there. We did fly over, and I believe we looked at your proposed site.
Certainly, from my point of view, waiting for the business plan and the model to be complete, I think it's a very good project.
B. Stewart: You spent quite a bit of time talking about this opportunity, so I guess I want to drill in a little bit on that.
It's difficult to imagine, with all the waste that's out there, that there must not be an awful lot of fibre that could be utilized into pellets if it could get to the sites. That brings me to the point that when the pine beetle–affected wood does run out eventually and has fallen down, obviously you need a fibre supply.
I'm wondering about the fragility of pellet plants in terms of if the fibre demand…. Let's say that the U.S. housing market gets heated up again and demand that we have created over in Asia and other things like that are going. I guess I'm kind of wondering what fragility there is in terms of pellet plants, in terms of rising fibre in the forest — you know, buying it in the open market.
There's lots of fibre currently, it appears — and I could be totally wrong on that — sitting out in slash piles, waiting to be burned rather than getting…. The big issue is the economics of getting it to the sites that are currently in operation.
Can you comment a little bit on the long-term viability once that all unfolds, Brad?
B. Bennett: To put it in context, and I'm going to rob a little bit from what I'm going to tell you on Monday, the world burns six billion tonnes of coal a year. If you actually work that back to a cubic metre basis, it's like 17.5 billion cubic metres. If you actually do the math on that, the world doesn't grow enough biomass. So the use of coal is in excess of what we grow, basically.
The current worldwide market for wood pellets today is 15 million tonnes. The only market there is today currently is Europe. Despite the euro debt crisis and all the other stuff that's going on in Europe, the demand continues to rise, and the prices also continue to rise. The euro has gone from about $1.55 to about $1.28.
The current break-even price — if you were to basically go out and bring wood in on a cash, break-even basis — is somewhere around $30 per cubic metre. If you convert that euro from $1.28 to a more normalized $1.55, that's about $38 a cubic metre.
Projections are that within five years we'll be at a point where we can log stands, do the silviculture, build the roads and still at least cover our costs or return some sort of margin. Again, it goes back to 15 million tonnes with projections that are done by fairly sophisticated organizations that say this could go as high as 100 million to 150 million tonnes by 2020. Again, today the market is only Europe. Other markets are Asia.
We had a biomass wood conference in Prince George two weeks ago. I don't think people realize the scale of the companies that were participating. There were three Korean power utility companies, each of which was probably three times the size of B.C. Hydro — huge companies. Huge structural programs are going on in countries like Korea, Japan. I mean, they're all looking at 2014-2015.
The key feature is that we're not here to take sawlogs from the sawmills. We're here to basically liberate sawlogs from those stands and to provide an economic alternative for the falldown material. Essentially, that's what we're doing.
Three years ago the industry used nothing but sawdust and shavings. Of course, the situation in the U.S. housing market happened, and all of a sudden our raw material supply disappeared. We had boats showing up, and we had no wood to put in them, so we started to go out and grind slash piles. It was a difficult, hard…. For all of the people that participate in the industry, it was a difficult period.
But we've learned how to use that material. I can safely say that if we can make the economics work around the fibre input costs, we can safely take 100 percent slash and turn it into wood pellets and ship it. We can take what was wasted and burnt.
Today in Prince George, unless it's contaminated with rocks and grit, there are no slash piles being burnt within a four-hour cycle time of Prince George city, because it's being utilized by ourselves. In the northern part of the Quesnel TSA, I think Pinnacle Pellet is also using a lot of that material.
Our pitch is that this market is coming. It's here today. Despite all the things in Europe that are happening, the prices are strengthening and the growth is clearly documented growth that's going to happen in the next few years.
G. Powell: Can I also…? I'd like to address the situation where you said that there are piles of slash sitting out there and not coming in. I think that's one of the reasons for our push for infrastructure at Nazko. As Brad mentioned, currently once you get over a four- or 4½-hour cycle, it becomes very cost-prohibitive to move that fibre.
The industry is now in areas where they have one trip a day out of there because it's so far, which has caused a reload at Nazko. There are camps going up at Nazko that have never been there. If there is infrastructure at Nazko to utilize that fibre, all of a sudden those seven- or eight-hour cycle times do become three, 3½, four hours, and it does make that fibre usable.
B. Stewart: One other question, Gerry. When we were out on the tour, we heard about the road infrastructure, and there were some gaps out around Nazko. Now, the 4000 Road we were on the other day is a new road that has opened up access. Can you talk briefly about the importance of the road infrastructure to access fibre in that area, or is it not an issue?
G. Powell: No, it is an issue. Most of the harvesting now is in what they call the Kluskus supply block in the west Nazko. Years ago when the first beetle hit the area, they built the 3900 Road, which is a southern road, and they stopped it. Most recently they've extended the 4000 Road to the Kluskus village. It provided access to the village, and it provided access to timber.
Well, the Kluskus supply block is largely unroaded, so there needs to be some kind of road infrastructure there to access the timber. I know there are a lot of other sort of special considerations in that Kluskus area around Lakes, and the Cariboo area is in there, so there has to be some good planning about that.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Quickly, I'll put two in one. Where is the nation in the treaty process? Then secondly, one of the terms of reference is to look at area-based tenures and things like that. What you talked about is beyond consultation. You'd be looking at collaboration. What does that mean? Maybe you could elaborate on what that means and what sort of a time frame, if one was setting up an area-based tenure. What sort of a time frame do you see it taking?
G. Powell: Okay. The Nazko First Nation is in the fourth stage of treaty. They've presented their land package to the treaty table, so that's being looked at right now. They've been in treaty discussions, I think the Chief told me, for 18 years.
As far as area-based tenures go, I guess if you're handing them out, Nazko would be happy to take one, and a large one. In this TSA, I don't know. You'd have to look at it. There's been so much harvesting, and it has been impacted by beetle, and there are so many users or licensees in the area. It's not just a few people. There are a number of licensees that have these small, non-replaceable salvage licences.
I don't know. You'd have to have a hard look as to how you could set that up and make it viable in the short term. I mean, in the long term as these stands come back, there's going to be lots of wood in this TSA, so I guess looking at area-based, it has its pros and cons. But the viability of them you'd have to look at to see what's on there for timber stands that would be viable in the short term for people to hold an area-based tenure, because all of the operation except for the woodlots out west has been volume-based tenure. People just go where they can get the wood.
The other question was on collaboration, consultation…?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): It's just that you had talked about…. It wouldn't be consultation. It would be collaboration, which….
G. Powell: Yeah. I think what's happening now, and it's very frustrating for First Nations, is that they call it consultation. We get referrals that are activity by activity, so cutblock by cutblock by different licensees. It's very difficult to determine what kind of impact that has on the territory, on a landscape or the watershed level because you don't know what's coming. If we were to elevate that so that you were collaborating on a larger land base and watershed to see where the planned activities were going to be, it would give the community a better sense of what was happening, and it would be easier to work on issues that may be coming up before we get there.
D. Barnett: Where are you at with the shared decision-making model with the province of British Columbia?
G. Powell: I don't have a really good answer to that. I don't know where they're at, actually. I think it's still in discussion. It's not something we're using right now.
D. Barnett: But does it appear that it's moving forward?
G. Powell: I believe it is. It's moving forward with the treaty, so I think it's all part and parcel of where that's moving to.
D. Barnett: Another question, if I may. You have two non-replaceable forest licences at this time.
G. Powell: Correct.
D. Barnett: What size are they?
G. Powell: We have one that's 625,000 metres in total, 125,000 metres a year. That licence actually expires December 31 of this year. The second licence we have is just starting the first five years. It has a cut of 70,000 metres a year for five years, so 350,000 metres in total.
J. Rustad (Chair): One of the options that the committee is looking at, that had been presented as a possibility of being able to alleviate some of the mid-term fibre supply, is certainly looking at low-volume stands, stands that are currently below the economic cutoff. However, low-volume stands also means that there's a fair bit of biofibre or non-traditional sawlog that would be a component of it.
I like what you're suggesting. One of the challenges, of course, is how to utilize that fibre. What you're proposing is, actually, exactly the type of thing that may be what's needed to be able to access it.
However, of course, the low-volume fibre is in different types of stands, so I guess the question is: do you see any issues with stands that might be in that category? Low-volume stands would be below a certain cutoff. In Prince George, for example, it's 180. Other TSAs are different. I think in this area it's around 120 cubic metres per hectare. Do you see any challenges with looking at those types of stands as an opportunity to be able to access some sawlog but also be able to feed a plant, as is being proposed, for some of the biofibre that you'd be looking for?
B. Bennett: Absolutely. I think it's a bit of an evolution. I know that with the support of the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resource Operations, we're doing some trials in the Prince George area — again, very short-haul distances and stands that were…. Typically, what you have are stands less than 40 years old covered by the Forests for Tomorrow program as a rehabilitation tool — any stands that tend to be over 90 years old or tend to be handled by the major licensees.
We have been targeting stands that are in that 40- to 80-year age class that are killed, essentially have no advanced regeneration. It's really a mid-term timber supply enhancement tool, where we're going to go in and salvage whatever sawlog volume we can get out of it. We are going to essentially biomass-chip the remaining volume and bring that to our plant in Prince George. That's the kind of model we see going forward.
The second sort of answer to your question is…. Again, we expanded our facility in Prince George at the end of 2009, beginning of 2010. We took it from roughly 175,000 tonnes to 350,000, and the growth was essentially to utilize forest residuals. Really, the plant was not designed initially to use that type of material. One, we would not have got the sales contract. Two, we would not have got the capital to do that without the forest licence we currently own in Quesnel.
Even though that licence is, economically, extremely challenged to support anything in Prince George, both our banker and our customer clearly wanted to see some sort of secure timber supply. They didn't really, frankly, care if it was economic or not. They just wanted to ensure that you had wood. When I look at….
Two things. When you backstop an investment like this, we're not overly concerned if it's outside what is traditionally a timber-harvesting land base. We're fine with those types of stands as a backstop. What we will probably end up doing is purchasing a lot of the material that we're talking about, the non-sawlog material, from the major licensees that have existing tenures in the area.
Really, when it comes to backstopping the tenure, we can see those uneconomic stands as a key feature. I'm talking a little bit outside of Quesnel, but in other parts of the province it's a way of backstopping the growth of our sector, essentially.
G. Powell: I guess the other issue with those types of stands is you'd have to have a hard look, and it goes back to our concern about some kind of higher-level planning.
I know that as time went forward here there were areas that were left aside because it was: "Well, we'll never be there." It's a low-volume stand, but it functions to protect some other resource so that harvesting is opened up on other parts of the land base. I think you have to also have a really hard look as to why that stand was left behind. Is it simply because it was economical, and there's no reason we can't go in there if somebody wants to harvest it? Or were they set aside for other considerations?
J. Rustad (Chair): I've got a couple of questions, and we'll go to Bill for the next question.
A couple of the things we looked at when we flew over. I'm well aware, of course, that when you have old fires, you have areas that come in with extreme density, in the tens of thousands of stands per hectare as opposed to the 1,000 to 3,000 that's considered to be more desirable. I'm wondering if you think you would be able to operate in a stand like that to be able to do a thinning and extract that fibre, whether you think that could be potentially economical.
Then the other side is that some of the other stands would be areas that were maybe 60, 70, 80 percent beetle-kill that still have a 20 or 30 percent sawlog once you get to our post–pine beetle world in terms of the cut and that are no longer contributing, that would be considered a low-volume-stand opportunity — whether you think you could make the economics work in stands like that as well.
That may be too technical in terms of answering a question, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
B. Bennett: No, just a bit of background. One of the things that the whole industry has participated in is the Forests for Tomorrow program where, in this case, there were stands that were 30 to 40 years old that were killed by mountain pine beetle. The trees were fallen, extracted, put on a roadside. Some of the costs were borne by the Crown, and the Crown did, essentially, the silviculture on those stands. We basically ground the material up and utilized it. It was a great feedstock for our plant. So there's one example where that could happen.
In the case of the thinning, what's going through my mind is: is there a silviculture obligation and a road obligation? Are there planning obligations if it's stacked on the roadside or we had to do thinning? We're right up against the economic margin.
I think part of one of the points I'm making is that, frankly, if all we needed is an exchange shift in Europe to a more normalized level, then we would be able to actually go cut trees down, do the silviculture, do the roads on a more normal….
Volume drives everything, so those stands tend to have very low volumes. But a stand that is essentially checked up, very low sawlog percentages, but has a higher volume…. Those tends to be the stands that we're targeting in the trials that we're doing so far — very small diameter, very dense stands, no understorey regeneration. We're removing that and putting a managed stand underneath it — again, enhancing the mid-term timber supply and generating any sawlogs that are in those stands.
We are bumping up against the economic margin. I think part of what I'm saying is that I think that situation will continue to improve in our industry, and we'll be able to utilize those stands as we go forward.
J. Rustad (Chair): One last question, and then off to Bill, which is just on the power line. From the economic model that you're looking for in terms of the power line coming forward, are you looking at a partnership-type model in terms of the costs of putting in that power line, or are you hoping that all that cost would be borne by the province?
B. Bennett: No. To be honest, what we've been looking at is a partnership, essentially, working with the band. We've said that we can contribute to it as a company. We've also been talking to the federal government, and there's been some interest on their part. We've actually discussed it with all the mining ventures in the area to see if there's some interest there that would fit with them.
We're not there yet, to be honest with you. We haven't got a full array — a quarter from us, a quarter, a quarter…. We haven't got there yet, essentially. Today, in our economics, we can't saddle ourselves with the entire cost of the power line and make it work — no.
B. Routley: First of all, I'm encouraged by what you're doing. I think that in terms of timber supply, one of the major interests of communities is getting the right log to the right mill to add value and maximize the number of jobs per cubic metre.
I wondered how you were doing in partnerships with the majors. Obviously, what they've been doing is either burning or it's residual. Have you been able to get fibre supply, long-term commitments, out of any of the major players?
On the coast I was aware of chip supply agreements for pulp mills, for example. In some cases, that was a…. Obviously, you want to backstop that with some commitment of fibre supply. An ideal win-win situation would be for some of the majors that are wasting that fibre now to commit to long-term fibre supply agreements.
I wondered how you were making out in that regard. Have you had any success at all? If so, what kind of volume have you got so far in terms of partnerships?
B. Bennett: Right. Generally, the major licensees have been very cooperative as far as providing us access to that timber. The concern has been that there's been really no security of supply and no security of pricing. Essentially, a block-by-block auction is what is starting to happen in Prince George, essentially: "What do you pay? What do you pay?" So there's no certainty of supply. It tends to be on that type of material.
We're starting to get into it. One of the reasons we purchased our forest licence was to use that as a trading element so that we say: "Well, I'll give you logs, if you give me this."
I think part of the problem we've had over the last five to seven years, in my opinion, is that we've…. The market, of course, for lumber has been terrible, and we flooded the market with AAC, so there's been no value in having a forest licence. That's starting to change now as AACs are starting to ratchet down and companies are saying: "I'm willing to trade that material."
To be honest with you, generally, on a day-to-day basis, good cooperation in letting us have access to it. As far as long-term security, not very much success, frankly, to be perfectly honest with you.
There are still a lot of learnings that are going on about how to prepare the fibre so that we can utilize it. There's a lot of fibre that gets wasted because it gets prepared in an incorrect fashion. That's starting to evolve. Our contractors are working with the majors' contractors and getting better cooperation and that kind of thing.
Our biggest problem today is, essentially, that we have no security of supply on those waste piles. They could go away in a minute.
J. Rustad (Chair): Definitely a challenge.
Any other questions from members?
Thank you very much for your presentation and also for presenting the initiative that you're looking for. It's something that we're looking at.
B. Bennett: We're going to just leave you with…. One is the detailed cost estimate for the power line that was done by Terra Tech and the socioeconomic analysis that was done by Girvan and Hall, who are fairly well-known consultants. It was done for Minister Bell. We'll also leave you that in the pack.
J. Rustad (Chair): Good. Thank you very much.
The committee will take a brief recess. Then, if we can, we'll look at starting the community consultation component a little early.
The committee recessed from 9:41 a.m. to 10:02 a.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): We are now starting our next component of the community consultation, which is for public presentations. Each presenter will have 15 minutes to do a presentation. They can use that however they want — make a presentation or allow some time for some questions and answers.
We'll start with our first presenter, who is Bruce Eby with Cariboo Pulp and Paper. Bruce, over to you.
B. Eby: Good morning, and thank you for your time today. As you mentioned, my name is Bruce Eby. I'm the general manager of Cariboo Pulp and Paper, which is located in Quesnel here.
I'm going to be relatively brief this morning, as there are really just a couple of points I want to impress upon the committee for consideration. There is a one-page document summary. I want to make sure everybody has a copy of it. Excellent.
Maybe the starting point here is to kind of talk about who we are in the community. Cariboo Pulp has been operating in Quesnel since 1972, and we're in our 40th year of operation. Our company is a joint venture between West Fraser Mills and Daishowa-Marubeni International, which is DMI.
We have approximately 300 full-time employees. Of note with that, these aren't minimum-wage jobs. These are very high-paying resource jobs.
In the community and throughout the province we have numerous secondary jobs and businesses supported with that. We are the largest single taxpayer in Quesnel, and our annual operating budget is approximately $200 million.
Obviously, that money goes towards supporting primary and secondary jobs. It goes towards supporting businesses that provide services and materials, both in Quesnel and throughout B.C. and Canada, and also, of course, for purchasing fibre from Interior sawmills. You can see that we have a very large economic impact when it comes to annual budget and annual impact.
Maybe at this point I'll switch gears, and I'll talk about fibre requirements for our facility. We require on an annual basis 750,000 metric tonnes, which translates into 1.8 million cubic metres of wood chips, just for pulp production. Most of that right now comes from existing sawmills as sawmill residuals. This is typically the outside of the log. What can't be turned into lumber manufacture is converted into chips for us.
From a geographical perspective we pull in chips as far south as 100 Mile, all the way up through Williams Lake, Quesnel, north through to Dunkley and all the way west over to Fraser Lake. We have a very large geographical area that's required to support that quantity of residual fibre, just for chips.
In addition to the 1.8 million cubic metres for chips, we also require an additional 200,000 metric tonnes, which is almost half a million cubic metres of residual wood. Residual: obviously, we're talking about fines and bark and shavings and other wood that's not usable for other purposes — roadside residual and that kind of thing. We use this to generate steam and, in turn, convert that into power.
This is a clean, renewable energy that we sell to B.C. Hydro, that we make available to all British Columbians.
Certainly, reduced timber supply in our area, especially if it affects sawmill production…. If we are not able to get the residual for chips, it means that we have to go and whole log chip. From a residual perspective, that is the most inexpensive form of chips that we have and pulls the most value out of the chip, but we do know that if we don't have the residual, we're forced to go into the bush and whole log chip, which drives up our cost.
With that, of course, our total fibre requirement is over two million cubic metres of wood. Again, there are two things that go along with that. One is we need that fibre available to us to operate our business, and the fibre that we get has to be reasonably priced as well. If we don't have either one of those two factors, our business isn't viable.
There are really just two points I would ask the committee to consider when we're looking at forest supply in British Columbia.
The first is that when we're looking at timber and when we're looking at new forest tenure, I would ask the committee to not just focus on solid-wood operations. The pulp industry in British Columbia is a very large player when it comes to timber supply, and we also require a very secure source of fibre.
The second point here is that existing operations in the B.C. Interior have a viable timber supply before new tenures and new businesses are considered.
As I mentioned, our operating budget is $200 million. For the fibre that we consume, a company like Cariboo Pulp is a very powerful economic engine in a community like Quesnel. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of families that require these jobs.
Just as a footnote to that, our owners over the last two years have invested approximately $64 million of new capital into the facility. A lot of that has come from the federal government's green transformation program, but some of it has come from cash that they've put into this. The upgrades that they are supporting are around clean energy production and plant upgrades.
The point here is that they are investing for the long-term viability of this company. They've been an active member of Quesnel for 40 years. Again, when we're talking about viability, we're investing for the long term. That's a very important consideration. That's how our owners view the business that I operate. I'd ask that the committee consider that as well — so not short term but long term.
Point No. 2 is making sure that we support the businesses that already exist before we consider new tenure and new players.
I said I would be relatively brief. Again, just a couple of points that I wanted to make. Thank you for your time.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Bruce.
Questions from members.
B. Stewart: I'm quite surprised by the impact that you must have in the community. With the fibre supply that you consume and the tenure that you need, etc., I'm assuming the same responsibilities about reforestation fall to a company like yourself as would any tenure holder on the land.
That being the case, my question is around area-based tenure and how you feel about that as Cariboo Pulp and Paper.
B. Eby: One thing Cariboo does really not get into…. We don't have forestry operations. We don't have foresters. We don't have logging and harvesting operations. What Cariboo does is buy both chips, in the form of residuals, and hog fuel as commodities.
In other words, we just pay dollars per tonne. So we don't get into forest tenure. But what we do know is that as forest companies have to go out further and build new roads, it obviously drives up our costs.
Again, as part of the tenure part of it, I can't really answer to that, because we buy wood as a commodity in our company.
B. Stewart: But you just finished saying that you need over two million cubic metres to sustain your operations.
B. Eby: Correct.
B. Stewart: How do you get certainty around that two million cubic metres that you need?
B. Eby: Well, again, historically what we've done is there has been enough sawmill production in the central Interior to support that. But on the last down cycle, which was 2008, there were a lot of curtailments. Cariboo Pulp was forced to go and look for whole log supplies, which was very difficult for us. We were basically scouring the area for inexpensive logs.
We've been able to support it over the years. But obviously, things are changing, and the timber supply is obviously changing as well.
B. Routley: Related to my question was: what percentage of your wood supply is in chips, and what percentage is whole log or log chipping?
B. Eby: Currently almost all of the wood that we're getting is actually residual. So right now less than 10 percent of our chip requirement is actually whole log.
B. Routley: Is there a tipping point? At what point do the economics become too difficult to continue as a pulp mill? I know pulp mills have closed on the coast, and part of the issue, certainly, was the fact that residuals are key to a pulp mill. I totally understand that and get the issue.
But I am wondering…. You've heard the talk about eight sawmills closing. How many sawmills closing would reach tipping point where fibre supply would become such an issue as to force the closure of the pulp mill?
B. Eby: It's a difficult question to answer as far as what percentage would all of a sudden impact our business to the point that we wouldn't be viable anymore. A big factor in that, of course, is the pulp market itself. If the market is really strong and pulp prices are high, it supports us going and paying more for wood and having a higher component of whole log.
Certainly, that isn't the case right now as far as markets. I don't know exactly what the future is going to hold, but again, without a strong market, it makes it very difficult to have a high percentage of whole log wood.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you. A quick question I've got for you, and that is in terms of the fibre coming in. We've heard from a number of people about being able to utilize the hardwoods as well as the softwoods, and we should be thinking about that. Do you ever look at using hardwoods as a component of your chip supply for your pulp?
B. Eby: We've looked at it, but the reality is it's a decision we are not going with right now. Again, as far as supply, that's one thing. But just market based, we want to remain in softwood, at least at this point, anyway.
It's something we have looked at, but we've opted not to go there.
J. Rustad (Chair): I guess the last question I have is…. We have the birth of the…. I can't really call it the birth, but the continual growth of the pellet industry. There are, obviously, lots of players that want to go in with power. There is lots of opportunity for the biofuels. Of course, that still seems to be a little bit down the road here yet.
You require, I think you said at one point, eight million cubic metres of product in whatever form it comes in. How do you see the market across the area? You're obviously Quesnel, specifically. But across the overall area, how do you see that market developing for that fibre over time with these new entrants? Do you need to have mature wood? Can you use thinning-type of products or other types of stuff for the pulp and get the same type of product that you're producing today?
B. Eby: When we're talking about residuals or whole log for actual chip production, it has to be fairly good quality wood so that we can make pulp. Obviously, the residual can be many forms of waste wood.
One of the things that Cariboo really looks at is long term. You know, we talked about renewable energy production. We're talking about not just three or four or five years; we're talking ten, 20-plus years. When we're looking at fibre supply, as an example of residual wood, we're not looking at just the very short-term, roadside residual, dead pine, for example. We have to make sure that we have a longer-term supply.
We've done a lot of work at that to make sure that we're looking at the longer term instead of the shorter term.
B. Stewart: Thanks, Bruce. Not knowing anything about the pulp industry, being that not every community has one of them…. What keeps you in the Cariboo, and what makes the mill as big as it is? And what would make it even more secure for the future, besides just fibre — talking about product ranges, what you could do. What stops you from doubling your workforce? What are the opportunities for Cariboo Pulp and Paper?
B. Eby: Well, you know when you look at…. If you're going to build a pulp mill somewhere, obviously you need access to water, and you need access to enough fibre that's reasonably priced. Again, Cariboo historically, has been balanced that way.
But if we start to say that we can expand our facility and we can start making a significantly higher production, it means that we may not have the existing sawmills supporting that in the form of residual wood. So it means more and more whole log chipping. Incrementally, all those extra tonnes that you make now become very expensive to make as well.
Again, you want that balance between the size of your facility and the amount of production that you make. You want to balance that with fibre supply. Historically, we've had that, but again, certainly, we've got some uncertainty here in the future.
J. Rustad (Chair): This is a little bit outside of the Timber Committee, but when Eric and I were on the committee for bioeconomy, one of the things we heard was pulp mills converting over to being able to produce a wide range of products — more than just pulp. Obviously, you're well aware of those opportunities, and we're seeing some of that happening in other jurisdictions. I'm just wondering if you've explored that and what would be required from Cariboo Pulp and Paper to move down that type of a road.
B. Eby: What we have considered…. You mentioned hardwood. We've looked at that. We've also looked at different forms of pulp, one of them being called dissolving-grade pulp. So different forms of pulp.
However, again, when you look at the best option for us right now as far as success as a business, it's northern bleached softwood kraft. It's a kraft product. It's a chemical process, and it's 100 percent softwood. That has been our best business for us. Again, that's what we want to maintain right now, but as I mentioned, uncertainty.
We're always looking at opportunities. You're absolutely right: there are a number of different products out there as well. But from a business perspective, NBSK, or northern bleached softwood kraft, is our core business, and we want to maintain that right now.
J. Rustad (Chair): Great. Thank you very much for your presentation today.
Our next presenter is Stewart Fraser. Welcome, Stewart.
S. Fraser: Thanks a lot. I see you guys were out at our place. You actually drove right past our place the other day on the way to Nazko. We're the big camp on the left-hand side of the road.
I wish you guys would have come in the spring, because then it's not so green. You would've actually seen the full impact of what's going on out there when there's not so much green grass and green leaves and stuff. You didn't really get the true sense of what exactly is going on out there as far as the impact on logging, by coming this time of year.
I ask the committee's indulgence a little bit. My presentation is going to be just a little bit longer than your required time of 15 minutes, but I am a registered, licensed tenure holder, and other than through this process, it's pretty hard to talk about 40 years of a lifestyle in 15 minutes.
So to get on with it, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. My name is Stewart Fraser. I'm 53 years old. I was born in Fort St. John. I grew up in Vanderhoof, Prince George and Quesnel. When I was younger, I worked at Tri-Mac, which is currently Canfor; Ernst sawmills, which is currently Tolko; and Cariboo Pulp and Paper as well. Mostly I was employed at West Fraser sawmills and then at Quesnel River Pulp for 11 years, up until 1990.
I started my own construction renovation company, known as Wildcat Contracting Ltd., based out of Kelowna, and after five years I moved back to Williams Lake. In 1997 my father passed away, and I decided to purchase a guide area for my mother so she could retire in the Lower Mainland.
I tried to run both businesses, but after two years I decided to shut down the renovation company and focus all my resources on the guide businesses. This was where my heart was. Since the late 1960s my family has always been involved in the hunting and fishing business. This was when, if you were a guide-outfitter, you were also the angling guide, the commercial recreation guide, the back-country horseback guide, and basically you did everything that could be done in the wilderness. I was guiding fishermen. I did my first guided hunt when I was nine years old.
My dad bought the guide area in Nazko in 1977, and a good portion of our holidays would be spent out there. Every fall I would help run the camps — cooking, wrangling, guiding, etc. The challenges since I took over in 1997 have been a continuing strain on the lifestyle, one I would not want to have imposed on anyone. They are physical, mental, but they are mostly political. If I had seen them coming, I would have thought a lot harder before taking on the family business.
The decline in the U.S. dollar has cost our small business over $1 million in revenue. You wouldn't think that global issues such as disasters, such as the attack on the World Trade Center or the war in Iraq, would affect a small hunting-guide business in rural B.C. But it does, and the effects are immediate because hunters don't book.
In 2005 we restructured. We bought additional guide area to help increase allocations and quotas down the road. We purchased property on Marmot Lake in Nazko to build a lodge. We purchased rod days on the Blackwater River. Our plans were to expand into wilderness fly fishing industry. Diversification and expansion, we thought, would help recover the loss in the U.S. dollar and give those employees that were seasonal full-time employment.
We thought at that time these were good business decisions for the long term, and the investment was close to just about half a million dollars.
We have endured half a dozen major forest fires that cost us a third of our guide area. Just now we're finally able to go back into those areas and use them. In 2008 the economic climate in the U.S. started to drop off. Bookings are down 25 to 50 percent. Having the ability of being booked out in advance is really beneficial, but that ability has somewhat constrained, and all our efforts to grow our business…. We went into survival mode.
In 2008 we moved our business down to Nazko — our operation. We had our first opportunity in taking advantage of the revenue from logging. We were asked to provide a camp for Pioneer Logging and Joe Augustine logging out of Williams Lake. This carried on for two years, and in the winter of 2010-11 they moved to Prince George.
Our investment in infrastructure alone, not including the value of the property, is between $250,000 and $300,000.
We were told at that time that logging would be going on for at least ten years. We were also lucky to capture some forestry revenue from fires in 2008. Since 2010 we have enjoyed bits and pieces of the logging revenue, but just recently Blackwater Timber, who we had for the last year, purchased property across the street and set up their own 35-man camp.
Clauson Logging, which we had for the summer of 2011, is doing the same across the street from us. The Nazko Band is putting up a 50- to 100-man camp less than three kilometres from our place.
In 2009 the partial implementation of the new allocation policy, which some of you are aware of — we've done this before — caused huge hardship. We took a loss of moose quota of 30 percent and a loss of caribou quota of 25 percent. The access from logging and predation in our new guide area was starting to have impact on the mule deer population, enough so that we had to stop selling this hunt.
As some of the community people know, the allocation policy has yet to be resolved for the guide industry. The future of this industry has been in jeopardy since the implementation of the new allocation policy in 2007. As of today, other than a few small changes to mitigate the full impact, the full implementation of the allocation policy, this government refuses to fix it.
Now, because of the mountain pine beetle and the access caused by high-impact logging combined with predation, this will be the end of the guide industry, at a minimum in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, as we are entirely dependent on healthy moose populations.
Please note that there isn't a committee such as this one to deal with the very possible demise of that industry. Government has chosen to ignore this and hopes we will just go away. And we will.
From Quesnel to Nazko, the Nazko highway on the West Road River, to the West Road River or the Blackwater Road, the intense logging has left very little for the moose, the deer, the black bear and other wildlife, except for the wolf, as far as habitat.
Now, today, all the logging will commence west of Nazko into the most remote portions of my guide area. There will be approximately 150 men soon to be logging there. Blackwater Timber, which is Canfor; Clauson Logging, which is Tolko; and Nazko Band, which logs for West Fraser, are now setting up their own camps. The existing businesses in the Nazko community will see very little revenue from the timber being extracted from our community and from within my guide area.
Last week I asked Mike Ramsay, the regional manager of wildlife, about whether or not they had any idea of what our quotas would be for 2013. Mike informed me that because of the recent surveys on moose, the population was down 50 percent, and the annual allowable harvest would be lowered 35 to 50 percent.
This ultimately means that the allocation to the guide-outfitters will drop at least that much. Mike predicted that just because of this, 70 percent of the guides in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will be done, finished. He then added that this did not include the full implementation of the allocation policy, which had already predicted 30 percent of the guides in the Cariboo to be finished.
I asked why the drop in moose populations, and his answers were: first, anecdotal reports of an increased number of predators — wolves; increased access due to pine beetle salvage logging and access; and increased unregulated harvest of antlerless moose. To sum it up: predation success because of access and logging; increased hunter success, both First Nations and resident, because of access; and huge cutblocks, allowing the visibility of the surrounding areas, because of the high impact of logging operations.
I have supporting documents, and I'll leave them at the front for you to see them.
In the leaked document, the Mid-Term Timber Supply Project report, "to explore opportunities for mitigating the…decrease in short- and mid-term timber supply" and "the opportunities identified…." The first one was "harvesting stands currently considered uneconomical due to tree size, volume or species composition," and the economics include investment in harvesting and milling technologies to handle smaller logs. This can be done. It will cost the licensees some more investment to do this, but it is available. There will be some jobs, and the mills will not make as much money.
"Forest management practices, such as intensive silviculture and stand fertilization, which…have long-term benefits." What this didn't mention was the need to improve the forest practices, such as making sure the licensees spread out their harvest to include as much from the now less economical stands and distant constrained areas as well as just the easy stuff — however, they've already taken the easy stuff; making licensees, as far as their certification, put a good percentage of their wood back into remanufacturing for better values and creating more jobs; making licensees do more with less; and the discontinuing of the export of whole logs or ungraded lumber.
To further explain it, it's agreed that the licensees and the poor management of the ministry allowed all the wood close to the mills to be logged first. Now all that is left is the non-economical timber stands with huge distance constraints, or what the last option is — in this report it's No. 3 — "harvesting in areas managed for non-timber values such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat and scenic areas." So basically, this report primarily identifies all those non-timber-values areas that may have available economical, marketable timber from a licensee's standpoint — areas with no distance constraints, areas closer to the mills — and pretty much, they want to go back and log the rest of it.
The terms of reference are pretty much straightforward as well: "The special committee shall specifically consider recommendations that could increase timber supply." It would suggest that all of their options or recommendations to not increase timber supply are off the table. The government —Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations — has pretty much made its decision, so it seems.
In the May 30 meeting Mr. Macdonald presented under section 8.8(d) the report of the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council: "Now that the future of B.C.'s forest…is becoming increasingly uncertain the government seems to be walking away from their responsibility to First Nations and the public to manage and conserve forest lands and natural resources."
What about the wildlife? I have listened to and read all the video and transcripts of all the meetings, dating back to May 17, at the first meeting, and I have to admit I'm very disappointed in the lack of information this committee has asked around wildlife — wildlife values, wildlife populations and the impacts.
I'm extremely disappointed that this committee has not asked the government experts on wildlife, such as the regional biologists, regional managers, or even the director of regional resources, to be given the chance to present the facts at any of these meetings — facts around what the pine beetle epidemic and, ultimately, high-impact logging have done to contribute to the decline of wildlife populations, especially moose, deer, caribou, elk and grizzly bear.
I know submissions were made from within region 5, but I'm not sure about region 6 or region 7. They are nowhere to be found on your website, nor has anyone on the committee ever referred to them. I'm asking the committee why. Why have they not been made public, and why haven't you even asked: "What about the wildlife"?
On May 28, at one of these meetings, a quote from a committee member: "As good an understanding as we can have of all the background information that's going to lead up to defining what the problem is around the mountain pine beetle epidemic and then ultimately around what the options are that would be available to try to mitigate the problems…."
This committee has had every government expert on forestry make a presentation at all the meetings in Victoria and Vancouver — even regional forestry experts at the community meetings. Did anyone speak or ask about the effects, the impacts the mountain pine beetle epidemic and logging was currently having on the wildlife, or what could happen? The answer is no.
Of the $884 million spent towards dealing with the mountain pine beetle, did even one dollar get spent exploring what the impacts to wildlife would be? I can only imagine what kind of logging practices would be taking place today if there had been. I can only imagine what our wildlife populations would be like today if even ten percent was spent towards wildlife — hell, even one percent of the pine beetle money.
The federal government has committed a billion dollars to B.C., of which, from what I can gather from this committee, only $200 million has been spent or come through. I will get to what part the other $800 million can be spent on, since currently there are no plans what to do with it.
I thought this committee was supposed to gather all the vital information. I would have thought that knowing what the effects and/or the impacts the mountain pine beetle and high-impact logging was having on wildlife would be crucial information, and that before any considerations on allowing the continued existing logging practices of the day, measures would be taken to improve and mitigate these impacts.
I took the liberty again to ask Mike, the regional manager of wildlife in region 5: "What are the impacts of intense logging on moose in region 5?" His answer was that moose harvest is determined not just by access but also by sightability. Moose in early-stage forests are sighted easier by both predators and hunters. This leads to higher than normal harvest rates, and when a large area of the land base is at an early forest stage…. I would say the same about new cutblocks.
He also said that the impact suffered by moose are the classic case for cumulative effects. Logging has low impacts on moose by itself, similar to a First Nation harvest in pristine environments, or predators in a healthy ecosystem.
However, the cumulative effects that have occurred when there is a significant deforestation increasing sightability, increasing access exposes moose congregation in overwintering sites. Increased predation and unregulated First Nation harvest can combine to have very detrimental impacts on moose. It's pretty much the perfect storm when it comes to the moose population.
As a citizen of British Columba, a resident hunter and especially as a small business man and guide-outfitter, I am saying that this committee has not collected all the pertinent information needed to make an unbiased analysis that would allow this committee to make any recommendations, nor will the committee be able to until the wildlife story has been told and fully investigated.
I would suggest that until measures have been taken to rectify and improve the situation with the annual moose population decline, the current AAC of timber from the B.C. pine beetle timber supply area be reduced and that no recommendations considering any short- or mid-term timber supply increase come out of this committee.
For the committee, I have a few questions that you need to ask the experts in wildlife to help this committee get on the right track, because so far, you're way left of centre.
The first question that you need to ask is: what are the impacts on wildlife resources such as moose and caribou if a watershed is dominated by clearcut areas or early regeneration?
The second question would be: what might be the chances, particularly in winter, of a moose cow-calf pair surviving a year in a watershed where the forest cover is limited to small patches and even smaller riparian areas?
Three, with the large game species such as moose or deer becoming concentrated in limited patches of retained old, mature forest or dead timber stands, what might the outcome for game species populations be, given higher predator densities? Basically, what happens is that moose congregate into the winter areas, and the wolves follow them.
Four, for wildlife resources, what might be the impacts of high densities of open roads — across the watershed, for example — from unregulated hunting activities or disturbance?
Five, what has to happen in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, for example, to improve the situation?
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry, Stewart. We are well over the 15-minute allotted time.
S. Fraser: I just have a few more minutes. I would appreciate a little indulgence.
J. Rustad (Chair): We are already five minutes over the allotted time.
S. Fraser: I've got three more pages.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'm sorry. Could you give it to us in a written form? It's only fair to the other presenters that we allow the 15-minute time for it.
S. Fraser: I'll do that.
J. Rustad (Chair): I apologize for cutting you off.
S. Fraser: Okay. Well, thanks a lot.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you. I really apologize for having to do that. Sorry.
S. Fraser: I just want to say…. I'm a licensed tenure holder. This committee has not given any of the licensed tenure holders in this region a chance to talk or present to this committee — nor will they be able to, except for this — to explain what is happening to the bush out there. Fifteen minutes is not exactly fair.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Stewart.
Our next presenter will be with West Fraser Mills.
M. Ellefson: Good morning, everyone. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to make a presentation this morning.
Just by way of introduction, my name is Martin Ellefson, and I'm the general manager for West Fraser's Quesnel division. Beside me, on my left, is Stuart Lebeck — he's the woodlands manager — and Al Bennett, who looks after our planning for the division.
Just by way of introduction from a West Fraser perspective, I just thought I'd make a couple of comments. We're a Canadian company. We started in 1955, and we started in the town of Quesnel here. In fact, our current head office is right where the company started. We have a large sawmill in town, a plywood plant, an MDF plant — a medium-density fibreboard plant. We have Quesnel River Pulp, and a half interest, as Bruce mentioned, in Cariboo Pulp and Paper, with Daishowa-Marubeni owning the other half.
We have invested a lot of money in the town over the years and recently as well. We represent, from a West Fraser perspective, 50 percent of the total tax base. We directly employ 1,375 people in Quesnel.
As all of you know, we certainly benefit from a TFL that we have in the area here. Certainly, that supplements the TSA — or the rest of our timber supply. However, even with both of these timber sources, there are insufficient sawlogs to support the existing mills and our plywood plant. In fact, as was previously noted, we have already closed one sawmill a few years ago. Without a doubt, further industry rationalization will need to occur in the future.
West Fraser's predicted post–mountain pine beetle replaceable quota will be slightly more than the amount needed for shift in each of our sawmill and plywood plants.
As already noted, in Quesnel we have much more at stake than these primary breakdown facilities. The residual fibre from these mills obviously goes to our MDF plant and to our pulp mills.
To keep our facilities running at full capacity, we purchase sawlogs from as far away as Mackenzie and Fort St. James. We predict we'll need to reach even further into the future.
We have certainly made significant investments in our mills to improve our efficiencies, utilizing the most modern technology to extract all the value that we can out of the diminishing timber supply, but certainly, much more must be done.
We believe, however, that there is an opportunity to increase the mid-term harvest level in Quesnel through a combination of intensive forest management and a sensible modification of conservation criteria aimed at increasing the available mature volume.
At this time I would like to introduce Stuart Lebeck again. He will provide some more detail regarding this opportunity.
S. Lebeck: Thanks, Martin.
A bit about me. I have long-term roots in the Quesnel area. My family has been in this community now for 70 years or so. This is the community I grew up in and went to school in. I've been a practising forester for 16 years in Quesnel, after university.
After university I returned to Quesnel to be a forester. My career in Quesnel has led me now to be here, as the wood manager for West Fraser, to talk about our history. From our history and our experiences and our commitments, we do believe we can mitigate the timber supply falldown in Quesnel.
We'll focus this discussion on the mid-term timber supply and less on the short term, where the pine is and the tenures. We think we can do this if we're able to use our experiences from our years of TFL management to benefit the future. Through intensive forest management, we see that significant AAC gains can be achieved on the land base and crop rotations can be shortened.
In Quesnel we see our success at managing TFL 52, which is east of Quesnel, as a model for future forest management on a broader land base. For example, in our TFL 52 the AAC has been increased by 15 percent since it was awarded in '91, which is 21 years ago. If you combine that with TFL 5, we have been managing stands from the 1950s. Those managed stands from the '50s are ready for scheduling for harvest within the next ten years — to speak to some of the success.
Our rotations are forecasted to be 20 to 40 years shorter. These accomplishments have been despite reductions in our timber-harvesting land base through things like the CCLUP, the Cariboo species at risk and the Bill 28 process, where the timber supply has been reduced.
To achieve these results, we have been using intensive silviculture practices such as planting at higher densities in our TFL. The statistic is that we are planting at an average of 1,859 stems per hectare in our tree farm licence. We use genetically superior seedlings, shortened regen delays and aggressive brush control. What we call successes, we could not have achieved without detailed inventory and also intensive growth and yield research.
Our commitment to these practices was enabled by the increased certainty of our area-based tenure. We've had a position in West Fraser for 15 years of an inventory forester specifically for TFL 52, which is important to note. It's been a core focus of our management and understanding of our tree farm licence and how it can operate.
We believe one solution to the mid-term timber supply falldown is to expand TFL 52, where we can increase the area under intensive forest management. We do have a detailed analysis that shows volume gains can be achieved by simply combining the adjacent timber supply area with TFL 52. What that will do is improve the age class balance currently being managed.
That being said, given the shortage of mature timber, all the benefits of intensive forest management can't be realized in the mid-term unless they're complemented by a sensible modification of conservation criteria aimed at increasing available mature volume.
With that, all options within the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan…. We need to have those explored in order to ensure timber targets are met, and every opportunity to increase available mature timber in the mid-term needs to be investigated.
That being said, we must have the social licence and the community support to make even temporal adjustments. We understand that. As a basic requirement, we need to ensure critical habitat is protected and water quality is maintained. Also, we need to maintain our environmental certification.
We ask that the government enable legislation to allow replaceable volume-based tenures to be exchanged for area-based tenures. We do understand that the government cannot simply increase the size of our tree farm licence without equitably treating the other licensees. However, there are opportunities and options that can be explored and should be explored — for example, in Alberta's model of FMAs, or area-based tenures — for other replaceable tenure holders within.
We do have professionals with a lot of experience working with those other professionals to explore those alternatives, in ways of conserving non-timber values that reduce the impacts on the timber supply in a sensible manner. We do believe rigorous examination of the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan to identify these alternatives should be a priority.
The scope of this issue is provincial, and we realize it is that. We have solutions for the mid-term timber supply that will be different for each management unit. Every area is not the same. For instance, in Quesnel, as has been brought up, we're already extensively harvesting low-merchantability stands.
With that, there should and can be other opportunities for Quesnel, such as improving infrastructure. We won't go into these aspects of it today, but there are opportunities that will be included in a written submission by our chief forester, Larry Gardner. That will be provided at a later time.
In summary, we believe that increasing area-based tenures and the combination of intensive silviculture practices and alternate methods of achieving conservative objectives will provide the most viable solution to mitigating mid-term timber supply impacts.
Our success in managing TFL 52 should be the model for future management in this province, and we believe it should be expanded. This would be a positive step towards ensuring the long-term economic stability of our community.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks.
Martin, did you want to add anything?
M. Ellefson: No, I don't think so.
Al, do you have any comments you'd like to make?
A. Bennett: No.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay, we'll turn it over to the committee for questions.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just quickly, TFL 52 — was it impacted in the same way as other areas with the pine beetle, or is there something that would be different about it?
S. Lebeck: It was a pine inventory component, and 30 percent of the volume was pine and has, of course, been destroyed.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. If you were looking at the broader area that you work in, what's the percentage of pine in these other areas?
S. Lebeck: That's actually a really good question for Al.
A. Bennett: And you're referring to west of town?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I guess what I'm trying to get a sense of is that TFL 52 has had results that you're saying show it's something that if we expanded it, we would get better results on the land base. I was just trying to understand. Is it an example of what you typically have on the land base, or is it in some way different?
A. Bennett: Quesnel is sort of split into two halves by the Fraser River. Everything west of the river is pretty heavily dominated by pine ecosystems. As we move further east, you get more and more into spruce-balsam stands. Our tree farm licence encompasses a significant portion of those spruce-balsam stands out by Wells-Barkerville country, and we go right up to Bowron Lake.
S. Lebeck: If we looked at the adjacent stands to our tree farm licence, they are comparable to our tree farm licence.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. One other question, quickly. I take your point about having good inventory and about that being an important part of managing things properly.
The other question I have is the process of expansion. You've talked about consultation that's needed with a variety of groups. How complex is that? I mean, the company is consulting all the time. We heard an earlier speaker talk about, and I'm not sure it was directed at something like this — the idea of not only consultation but something even more than that, from a First Nations perspective. How complex a process do you see moving to area-based tenures, if that was something that government was going to choose to do?
M. Ellefson: There's no doubt that it's a complicated process. Certainly, in B.C. it hasn't been practised as much as in, say, other provinces like Alberta. We, being West Fraser, have a large forest management area in Alberta. We have a fair amount of experience at dealing with all the interested publics there, whether it be First Nations or other natural resource interests like mining and certainly what are referred to as embedded quota holders.
There's certainly a model around to look at to move forward. It doesn't have to be the exact same model, but there's certainly a model there. We have some experience at doing that within our organization.
B. Routley: I'm aware that under the current volume-based tenure system…. I heard one forester refer to it as kind of the wild, Wild West or a gold rush mentality. We've got people dropping in by helicopter, staking claims, ribboning out whatever they can. There seems to be a lot of ribbon-hanging going on right now, people being aware of the fibre supply crisis.
It appears to me that that model isn't working, certainly, to get the kind of investment…. You make the point about tree farm licences attracting more investment by the company and actually increasing the fibre supply.
Can you give us, in a percentage, the kind of magnitude we could increase fibre supply by having a different tenure model? I want to understand what you're suggesting here.
S. Lebeck: We actually have run those figures.
Al, it would be great if you would discuss it.
A. Bennett: Sure. By just going to area-based tenure alone, we believe for the eastern area that we could increase the capacity of that land base by at least 100,000 cubic metres a year, with the expansion proposal. As Stuart was talking about, with some sensible re-examination of some of the land use plan, we believe it can be increased further, as a percentage basis, making the land base that we have in the east produce between 20 and 40 percent more fibre.
B. Routley: The other question I had was about the issues of looking at the land use plan. Do you have an order of preference? What would be the areas that you think have the best potential for increasing AAC and that would be the least objectionable to the greatest number of people? Are you talking VQOs, or what are you thinking about?
S. Lebeck: You mentioned the best return related to harvest levels. It would appear that with some of those objectives adjusted, the old-growth management areas would have the potential to produce the most volume.
A. Bennett: I think one of the things that was examined in detail through the original process in town…. There are a lot of alternatives where we developed a land use plan 15, 20 years ago.
The knowledge of forest management at the time…. It was 20 years ago when a lot of this was coming through. We didn't really have as good inventories. We didn't have the GIS capabilities, and we hard-wired a lot of stuff in. Biodiversity as a science was only just becoming a new field at the time.
I believe that now, working specifically and looking at alternatives to try to manage for each individual value with some detail, it could be done in ways…. If we're looking specifically to, say, find a way to manage for mule deer while minimizing the impact on timber, we've found options that have achieved that.
The researchers at UBC — some of the science they're doing on visuals is a good example. There are alternative ways to manage visuals from what we're doing today that may succeed at maintaining the visual quality but allow for greater timber access.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. We are over time.
My apologies once again to other presenters, but thank you for taking some time presenting to us.
Our next presenter is John Massier.
To members, we are going to have to try to keep our questions short so that we can try to keep on schedule.
J. Massier: Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to present to you this morning.
My name is John Massier. I've worked in the forest my entire life. I started planting trees in 1974. I started my silviculture contracting company, Cottonwood Reforestation, in 1978. Since that time our crews have planted over 40 million trees and done various other silviculture treatments on over 300 square kilometres of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, from Tetana Lake to Quesnel Lake, and from Bowron Lake to Batnuni Lake.
Along with my wife, Hazel, I own 200 hectares of private forest land and was awarded woodlot licence No. 1406 in 1993, which contains 600 hectares of Crown land along the Cottonwood River.
Like many other people in this room, I wear different hats in the community. Today I appear before you as a private forest land owner and a woodlot licensee.
I want to start by thanking the members of the committee for taking the time to visit the larger communities in the most heavily impacted pine beetle region of our province. It's critical that you make your recommendations to government based upon the feedback you receive from the communities that you've engaged and that you understand the fact that the values of our forests go far beyond the maximum amount of sawlogs they can produce.
There are many different things we can do to help with the mid-term timber supply, and I just want to mention a few of them.
One, area-based tenures. I think it's only fitting that I follow West Fraser, which is the largest area-based tenure in our region, as a woodlot licensee who represents the smallest area-based tenure.
I'm sure you've already heard the arguments to move toward more area-based tenures. There are several different types, and I want to give you some locally-based facts as to why the smallest of the tenures, the woodlot licence, is the best option for the mid-term timber supply.
In 2009 then-Minister of Forests Pat Bell announced there'd be six more woodlot licences awarded in Quesnel. Since then, four of these have been awarded, and these are the details.
In total, those four new woodlots have covered 3,259 hectares of Crown land, but they've leveraged an additional 1,160 hectares of private land committed to growing forests, for a net gain to the tree-growing land base of over 35 percent. Those four woodlots have a combined AAC of 10,179 metres, and the one-time bonus bids to the provincial government generated an additional $905,000 to general revenues. That's enough to plant over 1.3 million trees on 1,000 hectares of the land burned by the fires in 2010, and all that before a single tree was harvested.
They will continue to generate stumpage revenues for the province and sustain four local families in perpetuity. There is no other area-based tenure that the province can award with those kinds of benefits.
I have to agree with MLA Barnett's comment from yesterday in 100 Mile House that government doesn't do a very good job of running businesses, but they're still heavily involved in the log sales business through B.C. Timber Sales. Based on the last four woodlot awards in the Quesnel district, if the BCTS portion alone of the annual allowable cut was converted to woodlots, there'd be the potential to sustain almost 400 families, and it could add as much as $80 million to the provincial treasury. The truly open-market log sales from those woodlots would give much more accurate information to the provincial market-based pricing system.
Point 2. Cut control regulation. A change to the cut control regulation has the potential to benefit the mid-term timber supply. As it currently stands, if a woodlot licensee does not cut his allowed volume by the end of his five-year cut control, there's no ability to carry it forward. A simple change of regulation would prevent green wood from entering an already glutted marketplace and allow it to be carried forward into the future year when it would have more value and help sustain our mills in the mid-term.
Point 3. We have to stop the waste. Since the race began to harvest as much of the pine as possible, the waste on our cutblocks has increased dramatically. Log buyers that used to accept 50 percent rot on the butt of a green log with a three-inch top diameter now want zero percent rot on that same green log, with a five- or six-inch top diameter.
We're logging and wasting stands of birch and aspen that are piled and burned just to salvage a few dead pine amongst them. These wasted hardwoods could be a significant part of our mid-term volume going forward.
And my final point, No. 4: reduce the cut sooner rather than later. The longer we continue our overharvesting to chase the 30 percent of the stand that's dead pine, without facing the fact that we're cutting the 70 percent live stand that will help us through the mid-term, the worse off we will be. Stop issuing non-replaceable forest licences, and stop granting extensions to existing ones in stands that contain over 30 percent live volume.
I want to end my presentation here, and thank you again for the opportunity to give you some of my thoughts on the mid-term timber supply question.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, John.
Any questions from members?
D. Barnett: Thank you very much, John, and I still agree that government shouldn't be in business.
My question is: woodlots versus community forests? What is your opinion on community forests versus woodlots?
J. Massier: Well, in area-based tenures there are many different varieties on the landscape. We've heard two mentioned recently. In our area we only have…. I believe 64 is the most recent number of woodlot licensees. They have, give or take, about 30,000, 40,000 metres of cut. We have the other 95 percent of the volume in area-based licences held in one licence by one company that has 600,000-plus. I defer to them for the exact number — but a huge volume.
We have one possible award. A woodlot licence is coming up very soon to the Wells-Barkerville area of an additional 5,000 cubic metres. That'll be the only one in our district. I think that's a great, positive opportunity for Wells-Barkerville. It will contribute a lot of stability to that small community and give them some influence over the area that surrounds their community.
What is see that's missing on the land-based and area-based tenures is balance out there. We have two models right now. We have the little, teeny-tiny woodlots, and we've got the giant, super tree farm licences. I think we need to have First Nations woodland licences out there. I think we need to have woodlots. I think we need to have community forests.
I think it's a great idea to have area-based licences, but what we're missing in this area, I think, is the balance of sizes. I think once we get that balance, we'll have a more truly competitive log market, and we'll have better management because….
Even I as an individual woodlot licensee see my woodlot every day. I see an invasive piece of field scabious growing there. I can cut it down. It's there. If I see a tree blow down, I can be out there next week with my power saw, cutting it up and using it as firewood, or if there are several of them, get a licence and get it to town to the mill where it can be used. So I think those are some of the benefits of the licences.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks.
Any other questions from members?
B. Routley: Well, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but did I hear you say that we should turn B.C. Timber Sales over to woodlot licences as a better model for the future? Is that basically what you're advocating? And what would be the advantages in terms of…? I think you've done some homework on numbers, so you're suggesting there would be a timber supply lift as a result of that.
J. Massier: Well, I don't think there would be necessarily a timber supply lift. I mean, the land base is there. And B.C. Timber Sales — whether it's there in woodlots is another thing. I'm just thinking there will be a different method of managing it. Individual family-based businesses will be managing that land base — people that live on or near that land that will be out there with the day-to-day management on those blocks now.
The point I was trying to make is that we need to have more variety on the landscape. Of course, I may be looking at it through a little bit of a coloured lens of a small woodlands manager, but I think we're really missing that out there.
I just used B.C. Timber Sales because that's the one that government really has the flexibility to control what harvesting levels they have. The other licences on the land base right now have already been awarded. They're owned by individual licensees, whether they be majors or small woodlot licences. I think that's where the real flexibility for government is, in looking at those lands that are currently managed by government. Those are where you have the ability to create other area-based…. Whether it be First Nations, community forests, woodlots or tree farm licences, that's where you have the real ability to move to area-based licences.
J. Rustad (Chair): John, thank you very much for your presentation, and also, thank you very much for letting us catch up on a little bit of time here.
Our next presenter is Bruce Johnston.
B. Johnston: Hello, and thank you for letting me express my opinions. In my judgment, there is little that can or should be done in the forests of this district that might mitigate in any significant degree the short- or mid-term impact of the loss of all of our pine timber. The best and kindest action this committee, our forest managers and the government could do is to say early and clearly: "Sorry, Quesnel, you've lost your industrial base, and there's nothing we can do to fix that."
I base my judgement on impressions from a career of over 30 years as a field forestry worker, much of which was spent laying out the harvest blocks, marking the roads and laying out the reserves, which some have suggested offer an opportunity for mitigation if only we could change our land objectives.
I also reviewed some of the technical documents that lead to the suggestion that the district might only lose half its old AAC by giving up some of those objectives. My problem with the documents is that they all seem to be data exercises with no indication of ground-truthing. In particular, the TSA working group report increases the mid-term AAC by 60 percent — "a result of updating modelling assumptions." Please be skeptical. There is a big difference between what dispassionate data suggest and what profit-attentive business will go after.
Clearly, any set-asides in pine-dominant areas have been lost to the beetle. Those were part of the two-thirds historical supply. Set-asides in deciduous, spruce or other mixed types where the spruce component was large enough to entertain harvest have as valid a purpose now as when they were mandated. You don't get hungry for them. Besides, even if you ate them all up, all they'd save is one or two jobs.
As a side note, the technical documents use a model that predicts that 20 percent of the pine has or will survive the beetle. That matches my experience. The beetles skip some trees for some reason. But the ones that survived are scattered in singles or small groups. One day a few years ago I was thrilled to find a 50- by 100-metre patch where only 50 percent of the trees had been killed. Yes, some pine survived, but almost nothing that will offer a real harvest chance after the salvage period.
Let me tell you how we fieldworkers chose harvest-related reserves, such as wildlife tree patches and conservation legacy areas. The first choice was inoperable areas — those impossible to harvest without serious environmental damage or too expensive to harvest so they had to be tossed. The next choice was the garbage types, areas of timbers the licensees did not want in their mill yards. These choices probably made up two-thirds of the harvest-related reserves. Once those were used up, reserves were arbitrarily designated — lines on a map with no real rationale.
For example, on a woodlot where I worked, the wildlife tree patch goal was 9 percent of the productive area. This was achieved by designating as tree patch a gully with 45 percent sideslopes and a black spruce swamp. Both are technically harvestable, and they would have been included in the analysis. But the probability of either ever getting cut is extremely small.
The strategies in choosing harvest-related reserves were also used on a much larger scale in choosing larger set-asides such as old-growth management areas. Start with the unwanted and really difficult, expensive areas, and add on only as much desirable timber as is required to achieve the target.
So my judgment is that most living reserves cannot or should not be harvested or that their utilization would require a structural change in the milling industry. Change the reserve requirements, and the same areas would be avoided anyway.
I will take an example from the 2011 TSA working group report. About 12 percent of the mitigation opportunity comes from accessing low-site stands. These are the garbage types that we fieldworkers were told to avoid like the plague because they are too difficult to regenerate. Including them in a mitigation strategy would be like saying: "Okay, we'll let them go back to brush for the next 300 or 600 years." Please, no.
Another suggestion for mitigation — and thankfully, it came from outside of the technical groups — has been tweaking the rotation age. But since this district only started going into pine in a big way in the late '60s and early '70s, that means the oldest second-growth stands might be 50 years old. They need another 20 years before they might produce a reasonable product. Almost all the oldest second-growth pine has been almost as heavily hit by the beetle as was the maturer pine. I've seen devastated second growth that was barely 30 years old.
Perhaps the beetle will have acted just to thin the trees, and the land will deliver its promised volume. We do not know, and we should not depend on it until we do.
Yes, some jobs could be saved by promoting industry that can use masticated, dead wood, but there are limited markets for those products, and they are likely saturated already. Ask how much of the current four million annual harvest has been taken up. Yes, a few hundred cubic metres per year could be found in surviving reserves, but those should only be considered on a site-by-site basis.
And yes, more volume could be found by reconsidering the rationale of such things as the caribou and mule deer winter ranges, visual objectives and other modified harvests. But collectively, how many jobs would those measures save, and for how long? Yes, go into enhanced silviculture techniques, but let that be on the licensee's dime.
One thing the government — we as a people — must do is invest in a massive reforestation program so that there is a long-term timber supply. But that will not give the district real jobs. Can you see that 50-year-old former resaw operator out there planting trees? Can you see his wife that used to work in the yarn shop…? The median age of this district is 43.5.
If the impact can be mitigated, the solutions will likely come from outside the district. They're not likely to come from the forest.
I'm addressing the committee today because despite everything that has been said and shown about the big pine kill-off, there are still people in this district that believe that timber supply is inexhaustible, and some of those people are in responsible positions. And there are some in responsible positions that know the timber is gone but are acting as if it isn't.
Do your deliberations, but tell us early to prepare for a really heavy hit and the loss of a pretty big chunk of our jobs. Don't sugar-coat the pill. Just give us the bitter medicine. Don't base your considerations on the most optimistic predictions. Have due regard for the worst case. We have lost way more than 70 percent of our timber supply.
The people, as individuals and families, have the right to know the facts and start planning uninfluenced by the Pollyannas of the political class. The for-sale signs are already thick on the ground.
I ask that the government and our forest officials continue to manage our living timber on a rational basis. Recalculate the yield with due regard to other land values. Do not respond to our timber supply loss as if it was a short-term crisis that can be tweaked to keep people happy. It will take the full century of the rotation.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Bruce.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I think the message is pretty clear that from the ground level, you believe there's not much mitigation that can come out. If I misunderstood that, if you do have ideas, whether it's growth and yield…. Certainly, in the flyover that we had, we believe that we saw more trees alive than we expected. I certainly expected to see more dead trees.
I'm wondering about the growth-and-yield analysis. I have heard that people…. Part of the problem is that we have not got up-to-date information, necessarily, on growth and yield, the stands and that kind of thing.
I guess my question is: do you see any mitigation opportunities, and if so, what would you suggest they be? The other thing is, if your worst nightmare came true and we did do a bunch of this mitigation in some of these areas, how would we mitigate the mitigation? You have any ideas?
B. Johnston: I'm sure you saw some larger stands. I'm limited to going on the roads. Most of the time that's fairly near where a past harvest is. I don't know where you went, but I haven't seen an extensive stand of pine. Sure they exist — not in any way that would support, to my mind, the mid-term goal that's been stated.
As far as mitigating the mitigations, I don't know. I am giving you my impressions from a career working in the forests and what I see happening around me.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Thank you very much for the presentation. You had talked about: "Let's deal with the reality and not sugar-coat things." My sense, going from community to community, is that regardless of what might be generally understood within the province, certainly within communities people have a pretty good understanding of what's going on.
Is that your sense? Do you have that confidence that...?
B. Johnston: I think people have a…. To my mind, the for-sale signs have multiplied and doubled. People are recognizing that there's a crisis coming along. My direct neighbour has to work in Saskatchewan, and he still has the place across the road because he couldn't sell it.
There are a lot of people of my acquaintance that…. They go up to the oilfields for a month, come back for a week, go back. They used to work here in good jobs, and they can't anymore.
Yes, the crisis has been seen. And we still get, as I said, some Pollyanna message that things will work out. I don't believe it will.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): In Golden as well, which isn't pine beetle but many of the same dynamics, there are economic things with the American market that are impacting us as well. The pull of the oil sands and those things are not unique to the areas that are impacted.
I guess what we've heard in a lot of the communities — and it's similar to what you're saying, in a sense — is that people want to have decision-making within their communities. Their expectation is that the province is going to be respectful. I mean, what we've heard everywhere is that a lot of work has been done on land use planning — that they want respect. I think all of us have heard that repeatedly. Respect what's been done. Respect local knowledge.
Then the other thing we've heard is the province coming in to provide the support, as a province, as communities go through transition.
I don't know if that gives you any….
B. Johnston: If there is a key thing that I'd say, it's just stay with the land use objectives that have been established. They were valued. They're going to have to be altered a bit because some of the places…. The timber is dead. But don't play with them just to satisfy a few industries.
Even with the most optimistic of the mid-term supplies, this city will lose approximately a third of its tax base. Mills will have to close. I don't think that's been recognized generally.
J. Rustad (Chair): Bruce, thank you very much for your presentation and for presenting your passion for this issue to us.
Our next presenter is Doramy Havens.
D. Havens: It sounds as though you've heard a lot of my presentation. My name is Doramy Havens, and I was a member of the conservation sector of the Cariboo-Chilcotin round table of the Commission on Resources and Environment.
While I have no particular expertise in forest management, I have made my home in Quesnel for almost 50 years and over that time have observed the changes not only in the forest industry around me but in the quality and number of logs hauled out of the surrounding forest.
The Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan was the result of a two-year, multi-stakeholder process which required cooperation and compromise from all sectors. Although the final result was imposed by government and weighted towards industry, the plan — a legal, higher-level plan — was accomplished with and based upon the support information provided by scientists, technicians and consultants.
Extensive, long-term biological and socioeconomic impact studies were done. At the table, tourism, conservation and sustainability sectors were given equal voice to those of industry and development. The CORE process endeavoured to plan landscape management to satisfy the requirements for biodiversity in a way that also balanced economic and social needs.
The protected areas and special management zones were arrived at by a wide variety of local stakeholders to protect ecological diversity, fish and wildlife, and recreational areas and viewscapes important to tourism and recreation.
Stakeholders from 20 sections met for three days every two weeks for 2½ years to come to agreement. After much mapping and research by experts, protected areas and special management zones were established on the minimum areas necessary to protect biodiversity in each of the regions by geoclimatic zones.
Why is biodiversity and ecosystem management important? Many reasons, among which are it maintains the integrity of the ecosystem process, it maintains the full range of habitat types and their attributes, and it blends the needs of humans with environmental values.
The land use plan also included legal direction for many other factors such as hydrologic stability, fish habitat, back-country tourism and recreation, and management of old-growth and mature areas.
At the time of the CORE process the socioeconomic and timber supply reviews showed, if my memory serves me well, that the annual allowable cut, if maintained at the level it was then, would have a falldown effect around 2015, just coming up. This was before the impact of the mountain pine beetle and the AAC increase to salvage the resulting deadwood.
Naturally, industry ramped up operations to make use of the extra wood supplies. At the time, it was expected that the increase in cut would be only temporary, while deadwood supplies lasted, and that the AAC would return to a more sustainable level when these extra supplies ran out. Now it seems this is not to happen.
I have a number of unanswered questions for the Special Committee on Timber Supply. Why is the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan no longer being used as the basis for long-term planning? Would it not make sense from an industry as well as an environmental point of view to base the AAC on the real carrying capacity of the landscape?
Much of the science and research to accomplish this was done by people with impeccable credentials as part of the CORE process. I realize it was 20 years ago, but much is the same as it was, and the values are the same as they were 20 years ago. Are biodiversity and long-term planning no longer important in our region?
Why was transition planning not done by industry in the '90s, when analyses showed that timber supplies could not be maintained? Have flawed harvest programs wasted the time for timber companies to redo their strategies based on the sustainable timber harvest level?
Why did companies invest in supermills that have the capacity to mill far more wood than our forests can maintain? How do we think we can maintain, indeed increase, the AAC over the long term when we must cut smaller and younger trees over larger and larger areas to meet unrealistic timber supplies?
How can biodiversity and the ability to cope with climate change be maintained when greater and greater portions of our forests are devoted to monoculture? How can other economic values that help to sustain our communities, such as tourism and back-country recreation, be maintained if the landscapes on which they depend are eroded?
By not making reductions in the AAC now to make it sustainable within appropriate landscape plans and to ensure long-term forest industry jobs, are we not once again just making the future impacts of lack of wood supplies more extreme? Will it not become even harder for our communities to adjust?
What has the province done in the last 20 years to create more local employment from each metre of wood cut? More importantly, are we leaving an opportunity for our children to have options around land use if we strip the resources today?
In conclusion, I urge this panel to base its recommendations on the best possible scientific spatial analysis methodologies, to take into account the diversity of the many groups that have an interest in using the land and on the future long-term sustainability for all those who use the land and to keep the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan as the basis for future AAC decisions.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Doramy.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. We've been asked some questions by yourself in your presentation, but we have five issues that were given to us to go out and talk to the public about. So if I may, I'd like to ask you a question.
You seem very knowledgable on the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan process. You went through it, which is great. How do you feel about area-based tenures?
D. Havens: Well, I'm not an expert. I really don't know enough to make a very valid comment, but I do believe that the forests belong to the people of British Columbia. I think it's the responsibility of the people that make the decisions to keep that at the forefront of their minds when they're making decisions around tenure.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): First, thank you for the presentation, and thank you for the work that you did all those years ago. I think you said two years. We've had presenters that have talked about 2½, five and six years. I think we've had a consistent theme in each community, as I was saying to the previous speaker, about the need to respect the work that has been done, to respect local knowledge.
One of the interesting things. We went around the table when we first got together. We realized that many of us had gone through similar…. Eric had talked about his time involved with the land use planning in his area, and I think all of us have similar experiences. So if it gives you any comfort, there are many here that are invested in those local decision-making processes.
All of those processes are imperfect, as this one will be imperfect. Nevertheless, we do get to a place where there's, hopefully, general comfort. So if that gives you any comfort. We have heard consistently about respecting the work that's been done, and we have to be mindful of that as we look at what we propose in mid-August — that it's respectful. I hope that it is.
D. Havens: I hope you keep at the forefront of your mind that the forest is more than harvest and timber and fibre. It has an ecological importance that we all base our lives on, that provides the basis for humanity.
J. Rustad (Chair): Doramy, thank you very much for your presentation.
Our next presenter is David Jorgenson.
D. Jorgenson: The late comedian Irwin Barker once said that you can tell that someone has been married too many times if they start their wedding vows with "Look." I've been in an intimate relationship with the forest industry since 1963, and I would like to begin this presentation by saying: "Look."
We all know that the way government and industry have responded to the challenges posed by the mountain pine beetle is leading to outcomes less than desirable for industry, for forest-dependent communities and for the forest ecosystems themselves.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the definition of stupidity as doing the same thing and expecting different results. Forest policy in B.C. has been focused on doing the same thing in regard to mountain pine beetle salvage for many years now. This same thing is an almost exclusive reliance on clearcut logging.
The results of this were as predictable in the past as they are apparent in the present. These results include a denuded landscape and an impending dramatic decline in timber supply. If this were not so, we would not be here today.
I'm not against clearcut logging per se. The problem, as I see it, is one of degrees. I find a glass of whisky in the evening a source of pleasure and comfort, but I fear that a bottle a night would lead to some undesirable consequences. So it is with clearcut logging.
I want to talk about selective logging, and I will begin by asking you to consider these points: (1) clearcut logging, even in pine-dominated stands, almost always includes green trees, both surviving pine and non-pine species; (2) because mill capacity is finite, for every cubic metre of green wood cut into lumber, a corresponding volume of dead pine is not cut into lumber; (3) when the mid-term timber supply crunch arrives, the dead pine which was bypassed in favour of green trees will no longer be suitable for lumber production.
Now, I want to mention some benefits of selective logging, aside from what I just said, because we've got this crunch coming in timber supply, and part of the focus of this whole program here is to see what we can do about alleviating it.
It's pretty obvious that there are some places that are currently off-limits. One that comes immediately to mind for me is visual landscapes. If you selective-log properly, you are not going to have a negative impact on the visual landscape. I can show you aerial photographs taken by the Forest Service before and after in areas where I logged, and you cannot tell that any logging was going on there at all. I removed up to 40 percent of the volume in those stands.
Another thing is that there are going to be job losses associated with the timber crunch. There are going to be more jobs per cubic metre in harvesting selectively than in harvesting clearcut.
Another advantage is that you are retaining the green trees, which are currently logged under the clearcut model — not just the mature green trees but also the understorey, the juvenile trees which in 20 or 30 years will have grown to a sufficient size to be economically viable for lumber production.
There are also a lot of environmental benefits. The reason that I got into selective logging initially was because of environmental reasons. In some way, this whole mountain pine beetle thing has been a bit of a blessing, in the sense that I think it's going to make the economic argument for selective logging sufficiently strong that it will happen, and there will be environmental benefits as a consequence.
Another reason is carbon sequestration. It's, I guess, a well-known fact now that clearcuts are a net carbon loss for a number of years after the initial logging activity takes place, whereas in selective logging, you still are able to sequester carbon.
Currently properly done selective logging is not economically viable. I keep busy at it, but that's because a man who is willing to work for nothing is never out of a job. To become economically viable, selective logging must first of all develop a workforce with the skill and the will.
The focus must be as much on what you leave behind as what you take. So it's not just a matter of having the proper techniques. It's also a matter of being committed to it. I believe that for selective logging to work, it's going to require a workforce that believes in it and isn't just doing it as another source of income.
They also need to develop effective logging technologies. Most of the logging technologies that are out there right now — the hardware — aren't built for selective logging, especially when you're selective logging in a beetle salvage. That's a totally different situation than going and selective-logging fir. For one thing, you don't get to determine which trees have died. So you need to have technologies that will work for that, both on an economical and an environmental level.
Also, the stumpage system has to be adjusted so that the appraisal reflects the additional costs and the additional benefits of selective logging. Right now it doesn't adequately address that.
Then, currently the only opportunity to engage in selective logging on Crown land is through the small-scale salvage program. This program was recently discontinued or, at the very least, put on hiatus in the Quesnel district. It needs to be reinstated and should be targeted specifically at selective logging.
Some of the parameters for the small-scale salvage program aren't really appropriate when it comes to selective logging. I think there need to be some adjustments. I won't get into all the technical details about that here because I'll run out of time.
Anyways, adopting more selective logging is certainly not a panacea for all the timber supply problems brought about by the mountain pine beetle infestation, but it is a part of the puzzle. The solution will not be one big fix but many small ones. Selective logging is one small fix.
Something that just came up earlier was that whole business about woodlots and B.C. Timber Sales. At the very least, I would like to see B.C. Timber Sales put a focus on selective sales rather than clearcut. I really think that by excluding selective, as an industry we're shooting ourselves in the foot.
In conclusion — I'll just wrap this up as quickly as I can — in an era of rapid change, sometimes your worst enemy can be a strong sense of tradition, or as Marshall McLuhan said: "We spend most of our time driving rapidly down the highway with our eyes fixed firmly on the rearview mirror." We are currently in an era of rapid change.
My wife tells me I spend too much time quoting other people, so I would like to conclude with one more quote, by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who said: "Some people look at what is and say 'Why?' I prefer to look at what could be and say 'Why not? '"
I guess I'm just an optimist, but I think we can find solutions. Selective logging will be one of them.
Just one last thing. My grandmother always told me that "can't" is the brother of "won't try." So that's the last quote I'll leave you with.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much.
E. Foster: Thank you very much, David, for the presentation. I wrote down a couple of the quotes that I'll probably use, so thank you for that.
David, on the small-scale salvage. I was involved in it for many years, and I thought it was a good program. But more to the selective logging part of it. How do you propose to make it viable? It's tough. I was there. It's tough to make it viable.
D. Jorgenson: One of the things that's going to make it viable is the fact that I think wood will become increasingly valuable as it becomes scarcer. You can afford to spend more in the harvesting activity than…. I mean, obviously, at $30-a-metre wood you can't do the same things you can at $50-a-metre wood.
The other thing is that there are ways of doing it that are actually better for the retention of what you want to retain and also more effective. The problem is that we don't have those technologies right now. The government, I'm happy to say, is actually supporting an effort that I'm making to develop some of these technologies. Hopefully, there is going to be a prototype available here by the fall that we're going to put to work.
There are always solutions to problems. I don't believe that we can't find solutions. I'm too much of an optimist for that.
E. Foster: Just a quick follow-up on that. I didn't phrase my question very well. We'll go to the B.C. Timber Sales end of things. If B.C. Timber Sales was to allocate a good percentage of their sales to smaller selective-logging sites, do you think that the market would keep the price on the bonuses down?
D. Jorgenson: The government is not going to get as much revenue in stumpage from a sale that goes selective, but there still are a lot of other benefits. Just remember, like the previous gentleman said: if you clearcut a stand that's 70 percent green wood, that wood is not going to be available in 15 or 20 years for the mills, to keep them going.
Aside from all the environmental benefits — which is, as I said, why I sort of got interested in the first place — there are some really strong economic arguments. The problem in terms of economic arguments is that we seem to have such a short time frame. We can't see beyond the next election horizon or the next quarterly dividend payment for the shareholders. We have to start thinking a little longer term. When we do that, I think we're going to change the way we do things.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. I love your quote: "What-could be — why not?" I ask that question a lot too.
You seem to support visual landscapes, going in there and selectively logging in these areas.
D. Jorgenson: All I'm saying is if the only reason is because of visual constraints, if you log it so that it doesn't look like it's been logged, then that constraint is not really a constraint — is it?
D. Barnett: Further to that, I'd like to finish my question.
One thing I haven't heard very much about in our tour — which has been for quite a few days — and something that I've been very concerned about for many, many years, is the health of our forests. We have pine beetle. We have other things that we all know could become a possibility.
What is your opinion of logging in areas such as class A parks — because you are very knowledgable, and I like what I hear you saying — selectively logging in there when we come upon something that is going to devastate another forest?
D. Jorgenson: Well, you know, the problem with these situations is that they're used as sort of a wedge to get your foot in the door. I don't have a problem with logging in class A parks if it's done properly and for the right reasons. But I don't want the fact that there is spruce beetle killing some spruce trees in the park to be used as an excuse to go and start logging the parks.
Basically, I suppose probably what I've done is alienated everyone in the room by making that comment. Industry won't be happy and neither will environmentalists. My perspective is that if selective logging is done properly, almost all the environmental arguments against logging no longer apply.
If you don't believe me, I would invite you to come and look at some of the blocks that I've logged.
D. Barnett: I believe you. Thank you.
J. Rustad (Chair): David, thank you very much for your presentation and for providing us with that information.
D. Jorgenson: Thank you for giving me the time to speak.
J. Rustad (Chair): Our next presenter will be Douglas Gook.
I want to thank you once again for your patience and for being able to move from the Williams Lake presentation yesterday to here.
D. Gook: Thanks so much for being able to alter that. Yesterday morning I was in Winlaw finishing off a small, private land selective logging job that I've been working on and wasn't quite able to finish that up in time to get back to Williams Lake last night for the presentation. So thanks for moving it forward.
I want to first honour the First Nations whose unceded traditional territory we meet on today as well as honour yourselves for opening things up for discussion again. It's a little bit of a drive-by consultation. The kinds of process this area has gone through, with the land use plan and a variety of other former processes, certainly provided more time and opportunity for input, but I just want to honour yourselves.
I also want to honour many of the people who spoke before me — David, Doramy, Bruce, John, Stewart. Those kinds of perspectives, I think, are fundamental in this debate. And I agree with much of what they put forward, as well as the foresters, loggers, forest stewards, craftspeople and woodworkers that this area has been known for and British Columbia has been known for — the ones that have been able to resist the kind of smothering that comes from profit at all cost and have been able to practise their profession from a basis of what's best for communities, what's best for forests and what's best for B.C.
I don't want to concentrate on the problems that are going on, but I have a little prop that kind of exemplifies that. Short-rotation forestry and what has been practised over the last many years has been kind of like this thing —fitting shapes onto the landscape in order to maximize profit. It's been a site-class, high-grading game for way too long in this province. Basically, all the highest-quality forests in B.C. have been pretty much decimated beyond belief.
The follow-up to that has been this suggestion that short-rotation fibre farming kind of forestry is going to be a solution to being able to maintain the wealth and jobs and community sustainability and forest sustainability. We've been fed a crock.
I think it's really important to start looking at fundamental changes in terms of reorientation of what's most critical for sustaining communities. That is sustainable, diverse forests.
A silvicultural system that I'm going to put forward today is one of the solutions to that. I summarize it as natural selection forestry. This is a silvicultural system that treats the disease of industrial corporate forestry with a technique that basically takes the worst trees or the trees that you have that are candidates for removal — those ones that the forest has chosen through suppressing out or disease or insects — out of that system. Those are just candidates for removal.
This particular silvicultural system really requires sensitive selection systems so that we can really highlight the value, quality aspects of what our forests in the past — and, hopefully, in the future — are able to retain.
Our climate and our conditions grow slow-growing, high-quality fibre. With a longer-term vision in terms of managing for those kinds of old-growth, quality aspects of forestry, B.C. can move into a major, sustainable, value-added forest economy. We are so far from it now with this fibre-mining mentality and short-rotation forestry. It is a crime for our children's future.
You can't correct a problem by repeating the same practices that caused it, and many of the questions that I see in front of us are basically that. We need to ask bigger questions if we really, truly care about our children's future, and to graduate from this kindergarten forestry system to something that is based on the kind of wisdom and quality aspects of what wild forests and our natural forests have provided us for so long.
Part of that dynamic is a real need to look at major tenure redistribution. The control of our forests by profits-above-all interests has smothered the options, the solution options, in terms of moving to these alternatives.
My family has been in this area for about 95 years. Half of the last 35 years of my adult life I was involved with coordinating and helping promote the Cariboo Horse Loggers Association, which has been pretty much decimated over the last ten, 15 years. But for a very small portion of small business wood and some private land and woodlot wood that we were logging on, we employed at its peak about 70 people that were very active in making very quality livelihoods from it, doing very low volume and what I would classify as natural-selection forestry.
Now, when it started to move into a really solid model — when people started walking off of feller-bunchers and going horse logging, when people walked off of mill floors and went horse logging, when they realized that that was what they wanted to do so that their kids could have some sort of future — there was a massive, smothering cloud that came down from the profits-above-all interests to smother the working forester that we worked with at the small business forestry program level and that realized the benefits of this — to shut it down.
That's the kind of problem that we have today. So it's really important that we move to a situation in B.C. where we separate corporate and state, where we get the interests of short rotation…. And many of those interests are based out of this area, based out this province.
We mentioned Daishowa-Marubeni and shareholders from afar who profit from the maximization of profit in this area, and who do not have the long-term best interests of this community and its workers and the forests in this area in mind. I think that's another really fundamental thing that we need to do.
I'm not suggesting that there's no future for larger corporations, larger mills — different milling infrastructure — but I think it's really fundamental that they move, as well as everybody else, to much more competitive log markets so that they do not have direct connection to the kind of tenure decisions that have abused and created the disease of industrial corporate forestry in this area and B.C. overall.
I think it's really important for the solutions that are all around us and that we have many examples of — Merv Wilkinson, Herb Hammond, Chris Maser, Jerry Franklin…. Many of these people — I'm not too sure if you're aware of them and know of their backgrounds — are the true visionaries for alternatives in this province, in terms of a silvicultural system that is able to truly highlight the quality aspects of what wild forests and natural forests can produce and make available.
I mentioned the Cariboo Horse Loggers Association as an example that existed for 20, 25 years, that was really charting and, from this area, trying to coordinate this true alternative.
There are other examples: many woodlots and some of the community forests that we see — the Harrop-Procter model in the Kootenays. These are all tremendous models of moving to this different perspective that truly latches the management of forests to communities who have long-term interests as their number one interest, above all.
One of the things I want to…. I have been so disturbed by the villainization of the mountain pine beetle. I call it the…. We need to correct this fear excuse that Osama bin Pine Needle has created this problem. We have been high-grading our forests in this region for 35 years or more, and it's fundamental that we admit to the dynamics of corporate-controlled government initiatives that have maintained that kind of structure.
We look at TFL No. 5, one of the early TFLs in our province. I had a chance to walk through those forests 35 years ago, some of the remaining ones. The quality aspects of those longer, older-growth or latter-succession forests was phenomenal. If we managed those with a longer-term interest, where we maintained that high-quality, slow-growing, we would have incredible opportunities for value-added industry.
The only way we're going to have value-added industries in our communities is if we start managing forests for value-added qualities. That's the only way.
When we look at the ESSF forests of TFL 52, the Wells-Barkerville area, the white spruce and some of the quality aspects of the slow-growing nature of those trees are phenomenal. Instrument wood — wood that can be used for violins.
One of my jobs during the horse logging era was to work with a violin luthier from Galiano Island who came up here. He was able to trade off some of the oversized white spruce logs in Wellwood's plywood mill deck that were just going to get ground down to 36 inches so they could be put through their lathes. Some of the highest-quality, tight-growth fibre on the planet, from the wedges for violins that he pulled out of those couple of butt logs, was going to be ground down for pulp, for toilet paper.
These are the kinds of abuses and the kinds of disease that we really need to get a grasp upon in terms of adopting new silvicultural systems that look for longer-term values.
Some of the other things I just wanted to mention. I'll be including lots of this in a more comprehensive written submission.
Supplying value-added industries needs to be supplied from these value-added forests. We're only going to achieve that value-added…. I'm not talking about holding things together with glue or the odd chopstick operation, although they might be part of the mix.
What's really fundamental is looking at what this climate, forest and land base truly produce, and that is slow-growing, high-quality wood. If we manage for those long-term interests by taking the worst trees out in a selective manner right through the whole game, over time those forest stands do nothing but improve. That is a far cry from what has gone on in B.C. forestry, where we've been dealt this incredible wealth, a diverse forest base, and have done nothing but squander it and ruin a future of incredible forest sustainability in communities for our kids.
When we start looking at these things…. And I'm just backing up what David was presenting. Things like wildcrafting and non-timber forest products; ecotourism; fisheries; guide and wildlife, issues that Stewart brought up; old-growth quality aspects; back-country recreation — all these things are looked after and, in many respects, are fundamental to truly gaining the full values of what our forests and land base can provide us.
In some ways, I think we need to melt down a lot of the machines. The kind of contribution to climate change that they produce and the soil, water degradation have all been, I think, very underestimated problems with what we face here.
So yeah, moving in these different ways are…. I think the biggest thing in my mind is that we need to let real forests employ people and sustain our communities. The type of hyped-up, short-rotation, fibre-mining corporate-industrial forestry has done nothing but extract wealth and leave our children with a very, very dismal future. Thank you very much for your time.
I just wanted to add that I have some very historic pamphlets from the horse logging association. These are collector's items. I want to give you one of the examples of the problem and one of the examples of, potentially, the solution. These are collector's items, so please cherish these.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Douglas. We do not have time for questions, as we've gone the 15 minutes. Although, I want to thank you very much for the presentation, and I look forward to the extensive written submission that you have indicated that you'll be providing us with.
That wraps up our presentations from the presenters list. At this time, I would like to offer an opportunity for an open mike for anybody that might be interested in coming up and providing us with some information.
E. Coleman: Yeah, Ed Coleman. In this case, I'd like to put on my school district hat. In 2008, when we did have the closure of Northstar Lumber, there was a program already in place that other communities were using, and that was the community development trust program. Two elements of that program were highly effective in our community. That was tuition assistance, and the other one was the job opportunities program.
I just feel that it's really critical for a community like this, which may have some transitional issues for employees, that we make sure that we use that tool that was in place — and well run, provincially — and be prepared to engage a program like that with some refinements to support this community if necessary. Rather than reacting to it when we do hit a crunch point, that we have a plan in place to deploy that type of program here in partnership with the college partners in advance, so that we're not phoning, saying: "Can we get it? Can we get it? This plant closed, or this curtailment occurred."
So we'd have the skill set to have that kind of program ready to go if it's needed, rather than be reactionary. This would be a good community to pilot it in. We've got tremendous cooperation amongst all of the education partners — UNBC, CNC and the school district — both youth and adults.
I'd just like to see that kind of proactiveness ready to go, if required. Obviously, we don't want to have to deploy a program like that, but we'll hope we can solve some of these mid-term issues. If we have to, it would be nice to not be reactionary.
The second part is sensible economic investments that would make a difference for jobs on the ground. I think a lot of work has been done on the local level. Any time that's occurring, the educational institutes are always a partner on them. If we're deploying a particular project that makes sense with a company — small, medium or large — you usually need a good, solid educational component of partnership that can be deployed at the same time.
So again, that's something that could be planned out and thought out, but there are good projects within the community that could be identified and known so that if there are some transitional issues, again, they could be deployed. It's just proactive planning.
I think our community really is looking at the long-term sustainability. All partners are quite cognizant…. We've been through some crises like other communities, but we'd like to get away from reactionary decision-making. We'd like to get into long-term cooperative projects and planning.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Ed. Would anybody else like to make a short presentation?
Okay, not seeing anybody else, I want to thank everybody for coming out today and for providing us the information. Our committee will be travelling on to Prince George this evening to start a session. I believe it starts at 4:30 in Prince George. From there, as I mentioned earlier, next week we'll be doing provincial consultations on the 9th to the 11th, and on the 12th we are in Merritt and Kamloops.
I just want to remind people that if something comes to mind or they want to add to their existing presentations or send some information to us, feel free to be able to do that to the committee up until July 20. Once again, the website available for providing that information is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee.
Once again, I want to thank everybody for coming out and participating in this process. I guess at this time, then, I would say this meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 12:07 p.m.
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