Minister Steve Thomson met with 32 coastal community mayors and councillors last night to discuss how forestry is impacting the towns and cities they represent. The meeting, organized by the Truck Loggers Association (TLA), gave mayors an opportunity to share directly with Minister Thomson what was captured in the TLA’s report, Community Perspectives On The BC Coastal Forest Industry.
Communication was the focus for community leaders and Minister Thomson agreed. “It’s about proactive engagement upfront,” Thomson explained. “Communicating our practices and working with your communities to make accommodations.”
David Elstone, TLA Executive Director understands the value of good communication. “The TLA is a strong and unifying voice for BC’s coastal forests community. Our goal here tonight was to build communication between local communities and provincial government and ensure all parties are being heard so we can find a balance on the coast for all forest resource users.”
Community Perspectives On The BC Coastal Forest Industry reports on the outcome of two surveys conducted by the TLA, one in 2004 and the other in 2015, benchmarking changes in attitude and expectation. The TLA’s study reflects what Minister Thomson heard from community leaders last night. They are frequently unsure of the province’s efforts to improve forest practices and policies, and even when they are aware they often have difficulty being heard.
“I’m glad our report identified such an important issue,” said Elstone. “It’s helped inspire the forest industry and the provincial government to take a hard look at their external communications.”
Other community leader concerns discussed last night included growing a local workforce as current forestry workers continue to age, the softwood lumber agreement negotiations, and building a value added industry on Vancouver Island.
Thomson spoke to all three of those topics and discussed ongoing work the government has undertaken to address them. He also stressed that forestry needs support from rural communities: “We need to recognize that we have a timber harvesting land base…and that we need that timber harvesting land base.”
The TLA (Truck Loggers Association) represents over 450 independent forest contractors and their suppliers operating on the coast of British Columbia. Our membership supports thousands of workers and, along with other independent contractors, accounts for close to 90 per cent of the trees harvested on the coast. The TLA promotes a thriving, sustainable coastal forest industry in BC.