A cut below

Kootenay jobs at risk in pre-election export deal says Kootenay West MLA.

A secret 10-year deal signed by forest minister Steve Thomson could have significant implications on B.C.’s pulp mills, including Celgar, says New Democrat MLA Katrine Conroy.

“We know that mills are having to pay more to get fibre, and we know that as the timber supply problem gets worse, it’s only going to get harder for mills to get chips,” said Conroy, the MLA for Kootenay West, in a press release.

“Yet the minister signed a sweetheart deal just before the election that locks a significant amount of wood chips in for export for 10 years. This puts jobs in B.C.—including here in the Kootenays—at risk.”

On Jan. 30 Thomson signed an Order in Council granting a 10-year export permit for 300,000 bone-dry units (slightly more than 300,000 tonnes) of wood chips.

It wasn’t until mid-March that the Chip Export Advisory Committee consumers’ sub-committee learned of the order, which was handled outside of normal procedures.

The order appears to violate the Forest Act, which says that chips can only be exported if they’re surplus to B.C.’s needs. Pulp mills and bio-energy companies are regularly in the market for fibre.

Conroy and New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald raised the issue in the legislature last week. At the time Thomson said that chip consumers had been given the chance to sign off on the deal.

Merl Fichtner, chair of the sub-committee, said in an April 19 letter to Thomson that the length of the deal was the biggest area of concern. He said with a looming timber shortage, it’s “impossible to determine today that a volume of chips will be surplus to the requirements of facilities in British Columbia over the next 10 years.”

“This is a terrible deal for B.C. workers,” said Conroy. “Public resources like our forests should be there to create jobs for British Columbians, but the Liberals are content to give them away.”

“It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure we get the most value possible out of our resources,” added Macdonald, “but the Liberals are content to ship B.C. jobs offshore. I’m guessing the minister wanted to keep this deal secret because it’s embarrassing just how bad a deal this is for British Columbia.”

Just Posted

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read