Forest industry supporters and a large convoy of logging trucks from Campbell River were in Victoria for a rally at the B.C. legislature Tuesday afternoon.
The demonstration, organized by the B.C. Forestry Alliance, was held to deliver a petition in favour of a “working forest” designation and to raise awareness about the importance of forestry in B.C. The petition asks the government to start looking at protecting the harvestable land base so future generations can continue to harvest.
“A working forest is the forest we all enjoy – parks, a harvestable land base, it’s the forest we work in and play in,” said Carl Sweet, one of the rally organizers.
A crowd of hundreds gathered on the lawn of the B.C. legislature with many people holding signs and wearing sweaters that said “forestry feeds my family.” The crowd clapped and cheered as a convoy of trucks arrived just before 1 p.m.
Sweet said they want to raise awareness about how important forestry is for the province. He also said organizers feel there is a disconnect between the general public and those in the industry.
“A lot of people don’t have all the information and we really encourage people to gather their own information regarding forestry,” Sweet said. “It’s a great industry, it’s sustainable, we’re a certified forest and it’s renewable.”
This is the third time logging trucks have gathered for a rally in six months and it took place while politicians prepared for the provincial budget. Sweet said forestry provides revenue for the province so organizers of the rally thought it is important that the industry is recognized for doing so.
“It helps pay for schools, hospitals, infrastructure, social programs,” Sweet said. “It’s an important contributor.”
Last September, the B.C. Forestry Alliance rolled more than 100 logging trucks into downtown Vancouver while Premier John Horgan was at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Last week, the Western Forest Products and United Steelworkers eight-month strike concluded, but the rally is not connected to the strike. Some of the individuals at the rally said their jobs have been impacted due to the strike.
“We haven’t been involved with the strike per se but we’re working with a reduced crew,” said Aren Knudsen, a rally participant from Campbell River.
Knudsen said many communities that rely on forestry struggle when the industry is hurting. She has worked in forestry for about five years and both her father and grandfather were involved in it as well. She said her husband, a real estate appraiser, has even had difficulty with his business because it relies on people who live in a forestry community.
“I’m watching businesses all up and down the Island suffering from this and laying off people,” Knudsen said. “The restaurants don’t have as many people going out there, the grocery stores are seeing a decline in their business so in the smaller communities it really does have a far-reaching effect.”
- With files from Alistair Taylor and Kendra Crighton