The QCI Chamber of Commerce is going to write to premier Gordon Campbell and others about the state of the forests industry on the islands.
Chamber members had a lively wide-ranging discussion about the industry when they met in Tlell Sept. 16. Member Gloria O’Brien told those attending that when the tree farm licences were created years ago, their goal was to provide stable employment for communities and workers, but today that appears to be falling by the wayside. Ms O’Brien said she’s concerned that the province is relinquishing control of how much wood is cut, and allowing the industry to decide itself, a move which means a company could cut a lot one year, and nothing or almost nothing the next, leaving workers unemployed.
Ms. O’Brien also noted that smaller loggers often pay more stumpage to the province than TFL holders, and that the small business program, which basically works well, is becoming difficult for small operators to participate in, now that it’s administered out of Chilliwack, not Queen Charlotte.
Ms O’Brien, of Port Clements, also noted that this past year has been a tough one.
“It’s not that the families are leaving. It’s the uneasiness
It has been really been quite a grind,” she said. And she said the major companies shouldn’t get any more subsidies from the taxpayer. “It is an insult they have been subsidized for billions of dollars and they are asking for more breaks,” she said.
“We need to start standing up and saying ‘industry doesn’t own us’, member Skye Cantin told members, “This is our life, this is our home.”
Chamber members decided to draft a letter which will be sent to the premier, other elected officials and other chambers around the province. The letter is to be brought forward to the chamber’s next meeting at the end of next month.
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