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British Columbia’s forestry sector can help lead our economic recovery

Prince Geoerge-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer Credit: Bernard Thibodeau, House of Commons Photo Services
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer

BY BOB ZIMMER

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP

 The House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources is currently studying economic recovery in the forestry sector.

As a member of this committee, I recently put forward a motion to have the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, invited to appear and answer questions about the recent WTO ruling that the U.S.-imposed tariffs on Canada’s softwood lumber broke international trading rules. This motion was passed unanimously, and I look forward to getting answers directly from Minister Ng about what the Liberals plan to do now that Canada has won its WTO case.

Throughout the course of our study, we continue to hear from witnesses about the positive impact our forestry sector can have not only on our economy, but also the environment.

At a recent committee meeting, Founder and Chairman of Peak Renewables Brian Fehr testified that, “the forest sector will be an important part of Canada’s post-COVID economy recovery, an important driver of innovation, an important partner in helping governments meet their clean energy and emissions target and a living example of how to do that in partnership with our Indigenous peoples and rural communities.”

Ken Kalesnikoff, CEO of Kalesnikoff Lumber, echoed these comments during his testimony, stating, “I think we’ve got a real opportunity here to have the forest industry play a vital role in both recovery and carbon, in climate change, and all of it.”

From listening to industry leaders like Mr. Fehr and Mr. Kalesnikoff, it is clear that forestry can and should play an important role in Canada’s post-COVID economic recovery.

For example, I know the news that Canfor has reached an agreement with Peak Renewables to sell its Fort Nelson forest tenure is a welcome one for many in our region. Peak Renewables has also purchased Canfor’s Fort Nelson mill assets and plans to build a wood pellet manufacturing plant that will produce 600,000 metric tonnes of pellets per year to be exported to Asia.

I recently attended a virtual meeting hosted by the Fort Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce where Peak Renewables CEO Brian Baarda outlined their plans for the plant and the approximately 450 direct and indirect jobs the project would bring to the area.

I know Mayor Gary Foster and council have worked hard over the years to promote forestry in the region and this project is an important step in revitalizing the industry and bringing vital jobs back to the community.

Like so many within the forestry industry, I know how important this sector is to our communities, which is why I continue to work hard every day on behalf of our forestry workers and their families.


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