The politics around forestry

The politics of forestry in B.C.

  • Sep. 20, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Jessica Schwitek

This week is the national week of the forest, and it is right in the middle of the international year of the forest. And in a town like Golden, forestry is always a topic of discussion.

“Forestry has always been in Golden’s history, and it will continue to be an important part of this town,” said Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald. “It’s the most important part of the community’s economy.”

Louisiana Pacific, a building products manufacturer with a mill in Golden, is one of the largest employers in the town. On top of that, there are more than 400 woodlot licence holders in the Southern Interior accounting for nearly 300,000 hectares of land.

“You really feel it in the community, whenever there’s a shift in the industry,” said Macdonald. The market has shifted substantially in recent years, causing the ministry to shrink, as well as 34,000 manufacturing jobs to be lost in the province.

“We’ve always had to be conscious of it,” said Mayor Christina Benty. “We at Town Council don’t deal with it directly, but it’s always on our radar.”

Golden is fortunate enough to have other major employers including Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and CP Rail, but LP and forestry in general still make a significant impact.

“We are aware of the ongoing uncertainty within the industry, and of how the loss of family-feeding jobs has impacted the local economy,” said Benty.

Despite the harsh realities facing the industry, Macdonald says he is confident about the promising future of forestry in B.C. and in Golden.

“There has been tremendous change in terms of products, and that change will continue. There will be shifts in markets, especially as Asia becomes wealthier. But B.C. has been adaptable in the past, and will continue to be,” he said.

“In the long term things will pick up, and I think we have every reason to be optimistic about forestry’s future.”