BY BILL PHILLIPS
Premier John Horgan was was unequivocal in denouncing the Liberal government’s rewriting of the Forest Act in 2003.
It simply hasn’t worked he 500 people gathered for the Council of Forest Industries convention in Prince George last week. And while Horgan said changes need to be made, putting the appurtenance clause, mandating forest companies to process timber in the area its harvested, isn’t on the table.
“Appurtenancy disappeared in 2003 and it’s certainly been my experience that putting genies back in bottles is very, very difficult on a good day,” he told reporters after his speech to delegates. “… We can’t recreate that.”
He did, however, talk about social licence which involves making sure “communities feel connected to the forest they depend on.”
Horgan said he has talked with forest company executives about making sure that companies that work in and around communities have the support of the the people in those communities.
“They are our forests, they belong to all of us,” he said. “Public forests belong to the people. We need to make sure the tenure holders, who we’ve given the opportunity to make wealth off of our land, are doing in a way that meets the needs of everyone … Appurtenancy is not coming back, but social licence has to be reinforced.”
Raw log exports has also been an issue in recent years as exports increased dramatically under the previous Liberal government. Horgan said banning raw log exports completely is also not on the table.
“This is a big challenge,” he said. “In my community, there are logs leaving Jordan River going past where the mill used to be, going past two other mills, getting to Port Alberni and going off to somewhere else … The solution is making sure those logs can be purchased here in B.C. by remanufacturing operators and making sure the logs stay here for highest, best use, which was the Liberal intention in 2003, but was colossal failure.”
Rather than simply revert back to the way things were in 2003, Horgan said government needs to make “the policy of the future to keep logs here, to keep jobs here.”