Premier Horgan lectures on forest reforms at COFI conference

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“I don’t think we should be scared off by a handful of people who believe they are morally superior to the rest of us,” Premier John Horgan said.

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Premier Horgan told BC’s major forestry companies that he had heard their complaints about the high cost of accessing wood, but that his government would stay the course on protecting old-growth forests and modernizing the policy in accordance with reconciliation with First Nations.

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“I don’t want to sound deaf to these questions, I know we’re a high-cost jurisdiction,” Horgan told a crowd of more than 750 at the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) convention in Vancouver. , “but we are also an extraordinary jurisdiction”, with forests, workers and communities “that are deeply important to the rest of the world”.

And the premier took note of the near-record profits major lumber producers are racking up, making now the “perfect transition time in British Columbia to build the forestry industry we all want to see.”

Doing that, however, will mean tackling forest health, which the province has focused on in modernizing policy to prioritize ecosystem management, which Horgan has encouraged industry players to focus on. to continue to work with the government.

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“I don’t think we should be scared off by a handful of people who believe they are morally superior to the rest of us,” Horgan said, referring to displays of old age, including a small action at the exterior of the JW Marriott hotel attached to the Parq Casino conference center.

Three Save Old Growth protesters glued and chained themselves to gates, which went mostly unnoticed on the conference floor and had been removed by security before Horgan arrived.

However, Horgan said British Columbians care deeply about protecting their forests, even if they “not all engage in civil disobedience.”

And he has shown no signs of backing down on implementing the old-growth forest review commissioned by his government, which has removed some 1.7 million hectares of forest out of competition for harvesting as part of temporary postponements.

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“We have to recognize that, we have to accept that,” Horgan added, not “apologizing.”

“We want a working forest, we want areas where people can come in and marvel at the majesty, but we have to do it with our eyes wide open,” Horgan said.

The “best way forward”, he added, will be in cooperation with First Nations and with “workers who understand that we are going through this together”.

Horgan’s speech capped the day-and-a-half event, where BC’s most powerful industry leaders hoped to hear signs that their concerns about maintaining reliable access to timber had been heard.

The Prime Minister did not address the subject directly, but COFI Chairman Don Kayne said delegates were “definitely encouraged, with the comments he made”.

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“We support collaboration and always have,” added Kayne, CEO of Canfor Corp., British Columbia’s largest forestry company. “He clearly talked about some of the challenges that we have, but we’ve always had challenges in this industry. The key is going to be that we all recognize that we all have a part to play in the solution.

Regarding access to wood, Kayne said leaders understand that BC’s wood inventory is “evolving.”

“We all know that we have been dealing with a decline (in timber harvest) for several years because of the (mountain pine) beetle, because of the forest fires, because of the floods and all of that combined,” said said Kayne. “It’s a complex issue and I think over time here we will understand better.”

COFI CEO Susan Yurkovich closed the convention for the final time, after announcing her resignation to the board after seven years in the role during a tumultuous time for the industry.

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