Timber belongs to the people of the North Thompson Valley, not to any forest company

Regarding Canfor’s request to transfer TFL-18 and A18688 to Interfor

To the editor;

The Timber in the Central North Thompson Valley has been harvested and processed here by the same mill continuously since the Archibald’s started a mill in about 1937, they sold out to Frank Capostinsky and the Clearwater Timber Products in 1941 who later sold out to Slocan Forest Products in 1987; they in turn sold to Canfor.

Basically, the same mill has been running here for more than 80 years. There is enough timberland here to supply a mill for another 80 years and then some if it is managed properly, but the timber has to be milled here in this valley.

A Tree Forest Licence (TFL) was applied for by Clearwater Timber Products in 1952, it was a huge block of forest land and had to be supported by the community. Reg Small was president of the Central North Thompson Board of Trade at that time, and he told of sending a letter to the Premier of B.C., and to the head of the Forest Service to support the application by Bob Swanson of Clearwater Timber Products Ltd.

It was felt by the business community and everyone else too, that if a secure stand of timber was set aside for the use of our mill, and our mill only, then the community would be assured of continued employment.

Success was received in 1953 when about 1,840,000 acres were set aside for CTP called TFL-18. Now there was enough timber for a sustained yield, meaning if it was logged at the proper rate that we would never run out; by the time the last stand of timber was harvested then the earliest planted trees would be ready to be cut. This was wonderful news, now we all could be assured of a constant supply of timber and steady employment, which encouraged people to move to this valley and invest in their own homes and or businesses.

The timber belongs to the people of the valley, not to any forest company. Canfor bought the right to harvest timber in this area from Slocan, but only the RIGHT TO HARVEST, if they choose to close their mill in Vavenby then they lose the right to the timber.

The Ministry of Forests is the agency that is supposed to look after our timber and direct the harvest, but recently they have allowed the big mills to regulate themselves, which I think may be a mistake. Canfor seems to have been logging all the areas as fast as they can just before they close down; I bet this has been planned for some time. We hear that Canfor is investing their future in Sweden and down in the US. Maybe the Forestry was looking the other way.

The Forestry compels all the forest companies of British Columbia to look after savaging the bug kill trees, wind blow-down trees and salvaging the recent rash of fire-damaged wood in their respective areas, which is obviously necessary all across British Columbia. This pushes the mills to increase their production to handle all this volume. The problem lies with allowing the mills to continue to cut their regular quotas of green timber at the same time, resulting in an overabundance of lumber on the market.

Soon their lumber yards are overloaded all across British Columbia and their customer’s yards are full too, which creates a drop in the price of lumber; now the mills are experiencing financial problems. Meanwhile, our forests are getting depleted at a higher rate than normal; some of the green wood quota could have been left standing for the future.

Lets’ be realistic here, Canfor will never be able to sell all their timber holdings to Interfor for $60 million, as reported. The First Nations will want a share and will fight for it with all they have; the Community Forest at Clearwater will also want a share, as will the BC Timber Sales (previously called Small Business Sales). Canfor will be lucky to get $25 million for what is left. Canfor may try to sell their mill to somebody to dismantle and haul away, but how much will it be worth that way? I bet not very much, the mill is worth way more running.

I think it is time for the BC Government to step up and stop Canfor from trying to split and sell the timber separately from the mill. Better yet make a deal with Canfor to help them upgrade their mill where it is; rebuild it to suit the future allowable cut of their tenure.

The BC Forest Service should also be held to task for the timber that was allowed to be sold out of our valley when Weyerhaeuser closed down. That timber should have remained here and gone to Canfor, which may have been the difference to keep Canfor interested to stay here. Maybe that sale should be reversed to stay here instead of going to Prince George.

The governments like bragging about how many jobs they have created, so how about saving the jobs that belong here. We hear 170 or so jobs are lost, but that is only in the mill, what about all the truck drivers, loggers, road builders and maintenance people as well as all the related jobs that are affected? There are lots of businesses that rely on this mill, directly or indirectly.

With the strength of Bill 22, the government has the right to stop any transfer of timber licenses. If the timber sale is blocked, then the only way Canfor can retain their value in the tenure is to resume operation. The mill could be scaled down in size and refit to handle the volume of timber available. All this is very reasonable and possible with the assistance of the government. The government has been quick to bail out Bombardier or Chrysler to keep them going; they are always putting up big bundles of money for some goofy “study” that never amounts to anything; how about helping Canfor refit their mill to the standard that will be right for the job here.

If Canfor still does not want to continue business here then they can put up the whole operation for sale. And I mean the package of the mill at Vavenby with all the timber tenure holdings and property held by Canfor. It will not be long before the lumber markets rebound and someone will be glad to buy them out and get the mill running again.

Glen Small,

Clearwater, B.C.

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