B.C.’s forest industry has shifted to logging contractors to supply mills and export markets. (Black Press files)

B.C. loggers struggle despite record lumber prices

Province gets recommendations to stabilize contractor business

Even with record-high lumber prices driving the forest industry, logging contractors continue to struggle to stay in business, says B.C.’s main harvester group.

Members of the Truck Loggers Association are hoping for quick action by the B.C. government on recommendations from the recently completed review of logging contractor sustainability, conducted by former cabinet minister George Abbott.

“This report and recommendations basically validates the reality of logging contractors today,” said Dave Elstone, executive director of the TLA. “There is declining profitability for contractors across the province.”

The recommendations include establishing a minimum standard rate model for logging contractors by 2020, including equipment required, set-up times, fuel costs, crew costs and distances to be travelled. The report also calls for a government and industry-funded training program by 2019, to address the skilled worker shortage caused by people retiring or leaving the industry.

Elstone said contractors are working at less than full capacity, even with high lumber demand and prices, because they don’t have enough skilled operators to keep their trucks and harvest equipment going. The contractor system puts a lot of risk on loggers and they don’t generate the profits to manage that risk, so some are closing down, he said.

RELATED: How will Winter Harbour survive?

RELATED: Industry lauds Canadian lumber trade action

The TLA says its members are the foundation of an industry that supports 140,000 jobs in B.C. and generates $14 billion in revenues internationally, with lumber sales to China, Japan, Korea and other countries in addition to the U.S.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson has responded cautiously to the report, offering to hire a facilitator to bring together large companies and contractors, with a deadline of deciding which recommendations to move on by the end of July.

Randy Spence, chair of the Interior Logging Association, said the report confirms that conditions are similar in his region as the B.C. coast.

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, cautioned that logging contractor costs for forest companies are already higher than competing jurisdictions, and the industry needs to maintain global competitiveness.

B.C.’s lumber producers are also dealing with tariffs imposed by the U.S. government since the expiration of the latest softwood lumber trade agreement last year.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Ferry sailing delayed after divers check Northern Adventure

Divers called in to check propeller shaft, sailing to Haida Gwaii now 140 minutes behind

Haida Gwaii fishery staff gear up for marine mammal rescues

Haida fishery guardians and DFO fishery officers better equipped to rescue marine mammals

On the Wing: Heatwaves, forests and shorebirds

By Margo Hearne The dog days of summer continue. It’s been hot… Continue reading

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read