By: The Working Forest Staff
Vancouver, B.C. – The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) has released a plan – “Smart Future: A Path Forward for B.C.’s Forest Products Industry” – with 60 policy choices that can be made today to secure a stronger future for B.C.’s forest sector.
The forest industry has been a cornerstone of the B.C. economy for more than 100 years, generating about 140,000 jobs in our province, including one in four jobs in the manufacturing sector. The industry is currently facing significant challenges that are being felt across the province.
“B.C.’s forest industry is an industry in transition,” said Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries. “The industry is facing somewhat of a perfect storm – an array of market and operating challenges coming together at a time when we are also experiencing a significant structural shift in the availability and cost of fibre. These conditions are forcing difficult decisions, which are impacting workers and communities.”
A number of policy reviews and public consultations are underway to discuss the challenges. COFI and its member companies are actively participating in these discussions along with many other groups.
“In addition to addressing today’s challenges, many people are asking what the future holds for forestry in British Columbia, and where will we be once we have moved through this transition,” commented Yurkovich. “We believe that with the right choices, there is a bright future for the forest industry in B.C. That’s why we are putting forward our ideas for a path forward – one that will help attract investment, secure jobs, deliver value and sustain economic benefits across the province.”
“Some of these policy choices can be implemented by industry, others will require government action, and many will require collective effort from workers, communities, First Nations, academic institutions and all those involved in the sector to build the industry of the future,” added Yurkovich.
The 60 choices for a better future are outlined under five major areas:
- Invest in, and protect, our working forest land base
- Have smart rules that protect the environment and encourage investment
- Strengthen participation of Indigenous people and partnerships with communities
- Double down on market and product diversification
- Be the global hub for expertise in low-carbon, green building
“Industry is ready to work with all partners to put these ideas into action. Working in partnership, we can create the right conditions for a world-leading, globally competitive and innovative manufacturer of high-quality, sustainable products that supports skilled jobs and provides economic benefits for communities, First Nations, and all British Columbians. “
– Don Kayne, Chair, BC Council of Forest Industries
“Our province has a proud history of breaking new ground in wood construction, and now is the time to take our expertise to the next level. We need to think big. This vision document looks toward a time in which British Columbia becomes the “Harvard of Green Building” – a world hub for innovation in wood construction. We have the people, the know-how and the ability to lead the world. Let’s grab the opportunity.”
– Michael Green, Michael Green Architecture
“Customers both at home and around the world know that B.C.’s forest products are produced to the highest environmental standards. Wood is a renewable resource that lowers the climate impact of modern construction. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we work together to ensure that wood remains the go-to building material here in B.C. and across the globe.”
– Greg Stewart, President, Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd.; Chair, Wood WORKS! BC
“Our industry is facing weak markets, volatile prices, punishing U.S. tariffs and high fibre costs which are making it impossible to operate economically today. We need to work together to put these ideas into action and find ways to get back to a competitive position so we can get contractors and employees back to work.”
– Dick Jones, Teal Jones Group
“I have been in the forest industry for over fifty years, both in primary and secondary manufacturing, and in my experience, there hasn’t been a time as defined as now for our collective future. Our focus should be to review all aspects of our industry to determine how to effectively add more social and economic value to the resource, and how to further innovate and develop new products for new markets. A key to success, however, is that industry must have reasonable expectations of access to competitive fibre. Also, collaboration through strong business relationships between primary and secondary manufacturing will be crucial going forward.”
– John A. Brink, President & CEO of Brink Forest Products Ltd.
“Indigenous people have been managing the land for thousands of years. It is a natural fit and valuable to the indigenous and non-indigenous communities in British Columbia for First Nations to increase their engagement in the forest sector at all levels to support community economic growth and diversify our collective knowledge of the land base.”
– John Mohammed, President, A&A Trading
“Over many years, we have built a forest industry we can all be proud of … an industry that is recognized around the world for its quality products produced to the highest safety and environmental standards. We have faced challenges before, but our industry, workers, and communities have proved to be resilient over the years and we can be again.”
– Ray Ferris, President & CEO, West Fraser
The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is the voice of the B.C. forest industry which continues to be one of the most significant economic drivers in the province and the largest producer of softwood lumber in Canada. COFI members produce lumber, pulp and paper, panels and engineered wood products at facilities across the province. All share a commitment to a future based on sustainable forestry and manufacturing practices, innovative product development and employee safety.