B.C.’s forest industry has shifted to logging contractors to supply mills and export markets. (Black Press files)

B.C. loggers struggle despite record lumber prices

Province gets recommendations to stabilize contractor business

Even with record-high lumber prices driving the forest industry, logging contractors continue to struggle to stay in business, says B.C.’s main harvester group.

Members of the Truck Loggers Association are hoping for quick action by the B.C. government on recommendations from the recently completed review of logging contractor sustainability, conducted by former cabinet minister George Abbott.

“This report and recommendations basically validates the reality of logging contractors today,” said Dave Elstone, executive director of the TLA. “There is declining profitability for contractors across the province.”

The recommendations include establishing a minimum standard rate model for logging contractors by 2020, including equipment required, set-up times, fuel costs, crew costs and distances to be travelled. The report also calls for a government and industry-funded training program by 2019, to address the skilled worker shortage caused by people retiring or leaving the industry.

Elstone said contractors are working at less than full capacity, even with high lumber demand and prices, because they don’t have enough skilled operators to keep their trucks and harvest equipment going. The contractor system puts a lot of risk on loggers and they don’t generate the profits to manage that risk, so some are closing down, he said.

RELATED: How will Winter Harbour survive?

RELATED: Industry lauds Canadian lumber trade action

The TLA says its members are the foundation of an industry that supports 140,000 jobs in B.C. and generates $14 billion in revenues internationally, with lumber sales to China, Japan, Korea and other countries in addition to the U.S.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson has responded cautiously to the report, offering to hire a facilitator to bring together large companies and contractors, with a deadline of deciding which recommendations to move on by the end of July.

Randy Spence, chair of the Interior Logging Association, said the report confirms that conditions are similar in his region as the B.C. coast.

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, cautioned that logging contractor costs for forest companies are already higher than competing jurisdictions, and the industry needs to maintain global competitiveness.

B.C.’s lumber producers are also dealing with tariffs imposed by the U.S. government since the expiration of the latest softwood lumber trade agreement last year.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Cathy McLeod ready to run in Election 2019

“I have the passion, energy and support from my family to continue working hard for our region.”

Shuswap plane missing since 1987 discovered near Clearwater

A family finally has closure after a plane missing since 1987 was discovered in the Clearwater B.C.

Barriere’s mayor is not seeking re-election

Virginia Smith is preparing to retire from politics

Barriere Fire Department to hold open house for Fire Prevention Week

‘It’s open to everyone, it’s free to attend and, yeah, we always like to meet everyone there’

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

A B.C. campaign to give municipalities input into marijuana advertising

Without a say, towns and cities risk Washington-State-style flood of advertising, proponent says

Defence cautions against mob justice in Calgary child neglect trial

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark of Calgary have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to dominate North American marijuana industry

Cannabis producers claim the U.S. is “rapidly losing” its competitive advantage to Canada

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

Around the BCHL: Merritt, Chilliwack and Coquitlam early-season surprises

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Federal government tables bill to transform prisoner segregation

Administrative and disciplinary segregation will be eliminated by Ottawa

Most Read