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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Province pumps $50-million into increasing fibre supply in B.C.

Truckers hauling logs are among the groups benefiting from a provincial promise of $50 million to help increase the supply of fibre.

Premier David Eby said the money will help get low-value wood from remote areas to pulp and paper mills.

“We know that access to fibre is one of the most critical challenges facing the industry and we’re working hard to find new sources,” Eby said Thursday (Jan. 19).

“The projects funded through the Forest Enhancement Society of BC will help us get more fire-damaged wood and logging waste to the mills that need it. At the same time, forestry contractors will have more work hauling fibre that would otherwise be too remote or costly to access.”

Eby made the announcement at the B.C. Truck Loggers Association’s convention in Vancouver. The announcement met a key demand from the Pulp and Paper Coalition and also earned the support of Bob Brash, executive director of B.C. Truck Loggers Association.

“Programs to assist in short-term mitigation for our workers and communities is welcomed,” he said. “Our desire is that this leads to part of the reforms needed to ensure longer-term sustainability of our members.”

Steve Kozuki, executive director of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, said his society is thrilled to help portions of the forestry sector in what he called “a time of need.”

The funding will help the industry transition toward a new normal by making more use of available fibre, he said.

Kozuki said the funding is a subsidy – but not to the groups British Columbians may initially think.

“It’s not a subsidy to the saw mills because they are not getting any of that funding. It’s not a subsidy to pulp mills or pallet plants because they are not getting any of the money,” he said.

“What we are doing is putting it primarily in the hands of First Nations and logging contractors and other chipping and grinding contractors. They are independent, general small companies and they are receiving the funding.”

The funding will also help Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across B.C. protect themselves against wildfires by funding projects designed to thin out the forest, thereby reducing fuel loads.

While the province didn’t specify how the funding would look in terms of job starts, economists use a ratio of approximately eight jobs for every million dollars in government funding, said Kozuki, meaning this could create 400 jobs.

The enhancement society is taking applications for various projects rights now.

This is the second funding announcement in as many days for the industry – $90 million over three years toward to support projects was announced Tuesday.


@wolfgangdepner
wolfgang.depner@blackpress.ca

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