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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

August/September 2015

On the Cover:
Tolko’s Lavington, B.C. sawmill has recently seen a major upgrade that positions the operation well as lumber markets move in a healthy direction, with increased lumber demand, both in North America, and overseas. Read about the major improvements at the Lavington mill beginning on page 14 (Photo of Tolko mill by Paul MacDonald).

Learning from others
Canada’s forest industry will have to implement various approaches to attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce—and it can learn from other industries and companies, from Apple to Telus, on how to do this.

Re-start for Resolute sawmill
Resolute Forest Products recently re-started its Ignace, Ontario sawmill, having invested $10 million on improvements, with a strong focus on the infeed area so that the mill can now receive cut-to-length logs exclusively.

New headrig and optimization improvements for Tolko Lavington
Tolko Industries’ Lavington, B.C. sawmill has undergone a significant upgrade—involving installing a new headrig from Salem Equipment and associated controls from USNR—that has delivered a solid improvement in recovery.

Rain Forest Sawmill … in the rainforest
Dale Crumback has recently moved from sawyer to company owner at B.C.’s Rain Forest Sawmill, and things are hopping these days with a wide range of customers looking for a variety of wood produced from their biodiesel-powered Wood-Mizer LT 70 sawmill.

Logging ‘n lobsters
New Brunswick logging contractor Drew Conley juggles running a logging operation—with most of the wood going across the line, to Maine—with helping out in the family fishing outfit, catching lobster.

Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for Ontario
Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s power plant in Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

Busy woodlot a welcome sign
One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

Fearless Contracting: not afraid of diversifying
Vancouver Island’s Fearless Contracting is finding the best business approach is diversification, and as part of that, it is increasingly doing logging work on B.C. Timber Sales, for other larger logging contractors, and for log brokers on the Island.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
With the federal election coming up, Jim Stirling says there may be a mood shift underway with voters, which could yield some surprising results.

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A mood shift underway among voters?

By Jim Stirling

By the time you read this, the federal election campaign will be entering its final phase toward the October 16 vote.

Many Canadians will have long since tuned out, yielding to the unrelenting sniping, the partisan half-truths and the hype. And while that’s understandable, it’s more than unfortunate because beyond all the blather lies four years of uncharted Canadian history for us to navigate.

It’s a sound bet that amongst all the campaign rhetoric, the words “forest industry” haven’t been garnering headlines across the country. The forest industry is off the radar of the major political parties and the majority of the public, which is no surprise. Forestry has long been a ho-hum subject for the federal government. To Ottawa, forestry is a sunset industry.

Hydrocarbons are the new timber baron. The Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States expires this October. The federal government has ignored the fact, publicly at least. And, it should be noted, the U.S. has officially been pretty blasé about the whole subject too.

The Canadian forest industry, on the other hand, fully recognizes the importance of negotiating an equitable deal with the U.S. It would like a continuation of the present agreement between the two countries. The forest industry here has made its official position clear—for months.

The industry understands the importance of a new deal to the economic future of usually small forestry-dependent communities across the country. Despite what the federal government may think, there are lots of these communities—and they’re filled with eligible voters.

Regrettably, the senior government’s view of forestry is being reflected in the general population. Many of them, too, view forestry as yesterday’s economic mainstay. Today, forests are things that get eaten by bugs and burn in the summer. How the industry has ended up encumbered by this public and government perception—and apathy—is a subject for another day.

But October’s election results may begin to change attitudes, with emphasis on the cautionary “may”.

From this outpost in central British Columbia, it appears there is a mood shift underway. Like many moods, it’s taken it’s time to foment. It’s a feeling formed of many factors that’s leading to a level of discomfort and uneasiness about the directions our provincial and federal governments are leading us. The headlong rush to develop is one issue, especially with the focus on the export of oil and gas in various forms to offshore markets. It’s worrying people. They’re beginning to ask more about the implications and who will benefit most from it all.

The multinational energy project developers will benefit, should they choose to proceed, by getting access to the resource they seek at fire sale prices. (Doesn’t anyone remember the results when the senior governments led the rush to export coal to Asia in the 1980s, the promises never kept with that grand scheme and the bills for infrastructure dumped on the public?) The provincial and federal governments will collect royalties from exporting oil and gas. A few permanent jobs will be created while specialist crews will be imported to do most of the major construction. It’s been ever thus.

But—and this is where the groundswell is growing—what about the other side of the development equation? What happens when there’s an oil spill? Who and what sustain the long term consequences? Many First Nations in B.C. and elsewhere have dug in their heels on this issue. They believe the risks from a huge increase in hydrocarbon movements on the coast are too high and the benefits too low. The long-term uncertainties surrounding global warming are another issue. Whether you subscribe to the phenomenon or not, it’s a factor on the minds of many people. More people are feeling uneasy about our consumption of and cavalier attitude toward our natural resources. Water, for example. All of a sudden that ubiquitous stuff that comes out of the taps isn’t so ubiquitous anymore. Welcome to California North. It’s beginning to dawn on more people that the most fundamental element for life can no longer be taken for granted here. We certainly can’t afford to be profligate with water (fracking in the oilfields?) while welcoming thousands more immigrants to enjoy the good life.

All of this stuff is contributing to this uneasiness about where we’re going as a society—and the motives of those who wish to lead us. More people are beginning to question whether a robust export-dominated national economy is compatible today with adequate environmental protection and preservation. And there’s that word “environmental”. It has been co-opted enough by so many for so long to become almost meaningless, especially when close coupled with its cousin “sustainable”.

But it is under that “environmental” umbrella that forests shelter. And, by default, they become something in the natural world that’s worth preserving and nurturing. Again.

If more people questioning the present economic orthodoxy reflect that in their votes on October 16, the result may be surprising. And if that were to happen in time for this election, the new government could demonstrate more understanding about the forest industry across the country. A process might begin to recognize the value of the forests and developing a cogent policy toward them. That, in turn, would help re-invigorate responsible stewardship of Canada’s invaluable renewable resource.