Layoffs in logging as forest tenure changes hands

  • Jul. 7, 2010 5:00 a.m.

More than 60 islanders have already been laid off or will be laid off this week as logging activity winds down in Western Forest Products’ tree farm licence. Western Forest Products has been allowing local contractors like Edwards and Associates and LNR Excavating to market log in TFL 60, Edwards administrator Wally Cheer said. However, that logging has come to an end because the contractors cannot get any approvals for cutting plans. Mr. Cheer, who is also a Port councillor, told his fellow council members Monday night (July 5) that the lack of approvals means that 32 people will be out of work in Port, 12 in Queen Charlotte, 10 in Skidegate and nine in Masset. “We’ve appealed to the CHN to grant some approvals,” Mr. Cheer said. “We really don’t understand what their issues are and they won’t say… I don’t know what to do but I don’t like to see residents of the islands unemployed and contractors out of work.” TFL 60, which covers a quarter of Graham Island, is in the process of being sold to the Haida Nation although the deal is not yet complete. Port council members discussed the situation, which affects a significant number of the village’s residents, and agreed that mayor Cory Delves should call Forest Service district manager Len Munt to see what is going on. Meanwhile, Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw said there will be no more approvals for logging contractors in TFL 60 because they were taking monumental cedar trees that the CHN wants preserved. “The market logging is finished,” he said. “They abused it and it’s over, finished. We have no intention to approve any more market logging.” Guujaaw said the CHN wants to maintain community stability and local jobs, but it appeared the logging contractors were more concerned about making maximum profit from cedar. “They were basically looting that licence,” he said, adding that this has happened before when the TFL changed ownership. “I was disappointed to see that still happening.” The Haida Nation, through its business arm Haico and its company Taan Forest, expects to hold the tree farm licence shortly, Guujaaw said. Taan Forest will hold and operate the licence, he said, and although the area will be logged at a reduced rate, and although there may be a period of transition, there will be work for islanders. “There should be plenty of jobs for local people,” Guujaaw said. “Things should start moving again under new management.”