By Paul MacDonald
It’s been a while coming, due to COVID, but events and shows in the Canadian forest industry are finally starting to get back to normal—and Todd Chamberlain of B.C.’s Interior Logging Association (ILA) can’t wait.
The ILA’s annual equipment show and AGM will be one of the first industry events out of the gate, taking place May 12 to 14 on the PowWow Grounds and at the Coast Hotel in Kamloops, B.C.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again,” Chamberlain said. “We’re excited about hosting an in-person event, and being able to see ILA members, and showcase suppliers at the equipment show,” says Chamberlain, general manager of the association.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring everyone together in Kamloops, and showcase our industry.”
Chamberlain noted it’s been several years since ILA members have been able to get together, due to COVID.
“We’re looking forward to re-stablishing that contact, people being able to connect face-to-face at the show. There is a real excitement to having an in-person event again.
“Everyone is looking forward to the start of a return to normal, and simple things, like being able to meet with someone and shake their hand.”
Chamberlain said the equipment show and AGM will follow any remaining applicable COVID protocols, however. “And if people want to wear a mask, it’s completely up to them—whatever their comfort levels are, we are happy to accommodate them. We just want people to come and enjoy the show.” He noted that a good part of the equipment part of the show is outdoors.
As in past years, the equipment show will be held at the Tk‘emlúpsemc First Nations’ PowWow grounds, along No. 5 Yellowhead Highway, in Kamloops.
“It’s a great venue for the equipment show, and they have been very accommodating to our needs, as has the Coast Hotel, where the AGM and luncheon will be held.”
ILA members will be able to take this opportunity to meet face-to-face, discuss current issues, learn about industry trends, see what’s new in machinery, kick some iron and explore new business ventures.
Chamberlain added that there is definitely some new logging equipment now out in the marketplace that will be showcased at the ILA show.
Continually evolving forest technology and eco-system management, changing regulations, policy initiatives and safety procedures, expanding markets and products, and new training opportunities are all reasons to come together to learn, discover and network at the ILA and trade show, says Chamberlain.
The link between logging contractors and their equipment suppliers is a key aspect to the smooth running of a logging operation—contractors need solid equipment, and just as importantly, top notch service, to do their job.
Due to COVID protocols, contractors and their equipment reps have not been able to connect as much as they might have liked.
The ILA’s office administrator, Nancy Hesketh, is a big part in very ably organizing the show, and she reports there has been high interest shown in participating in the show by exhibitors, with everyone from Anser Manufacturing to Weiler Forestry equipment (which is represented by its dealer, Finning), and more than 35 other companies expected to be exhibiting. “There will be some new equipment coming, but people will have to come to the show to see it,” said Chamberlain.
As is usual with the ILA, the B.C. Minister of Forests will be the guest speaker at the luncheon being held at the Coast Hotel in Kamloops.
Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy was appointed as B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development in the NDP cabinet in 2020. “We’re pleased that the minister is going to be speaking at the conference,” said Chamberlain.
The ILA ably represents Interior loggers in dealing with the provincial government, and Chamberlain said members will be interested in getting an update from Conroy about provincial government initiatives, such as the deferral of old growth logging.
“Contractors have to deal with a lot these days, from logging deferrals to high fuel prices. I think the old growth deferral weighs heavily on most of our members. There is uncertainty about what is going to happen, especially with Bill 13 contracts—that’s a real concern.” Also of concern are any reductions as a result of timber supply reviews, which can impact contractors.
“We also still have some work to do related to the Contractors Sustainability Review—we’re working on that, with the provincial government,” he added.
Rates, too, are always an issue. During the pandemic, the large forest companies have been seeing healthy profits, due to high lumber prices. But the logging contractor community has had to deal with price increases, in everything from fuel to equipment.
“Some of the licencees have been very good dealing with the contractors about higher fuel prices,” said Chamberlain. “There has been some co-operation and movement out there, but more could be done. But that’s why we’re here—to work with our members and licencees, and make it better for everybody.”
One of the benefits of being an ILA member is they can draw on the services of Meagan Preston, who is back as a Business Support Consultant with the ILA for another year, thanks to a new grant.
Preston is able to support ILA members and affiliates with assessing their current business challenges, and exploring solutions and opportunities to pivot and grow or stabilize in this current economic climate. This includes supporting members in finding and applying for funding through grants and loans, as well as assisting members in establishing partnerships.
“Meagan can assist members in a number of ways,” says Chamberlain. “If they have an idea, they can go to Meagan and she can actively look for funding opportunities. She’s been able to help members with a lot of good opportunities.” Over the coming year, she will be available to assist members absolutely free and the ILA will be releasing information on opportunities for funding and partnerships as they become available, said Chamberlain.
Over the past year, Preston has been busy working with some member companies on their needs including funding, exit and pivot strategies, buying/selling or finding funding for required items, new equipment implementation, policies and procedures as well as many other business support services. In the last several months, a connection has also been made with other organizations running parallel projects in hopes of being able to pair companies who have work, with contractors that require work.
The ILA is continuing to work on initiatives with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) in Merritt on workforce attraction and industry specific training, to bring quality individuals into the forestry sector.
The ILA, BCFSC and NVIT are collectively working on the development and delivery of a new program specific to the forestry industry called the Forest Workers Essentials Program.
This program will be delivered utilizing funding obtained by NVIT, and be a six-week program with both classroom and in field instruction. Curriculum for this program will include guest speakers, certification courses, a mentoring program, First Nations education of respecting the land during logging processes, and equipment simulators where available.
Some of the planned sites students will be exposed to will be in all areas of forestry including logging operations, log yards and mill sites, road construction, silviculture, and possibly equipment dealers and repair facilities.
The goal of this program will be to produce individuals who are trained, engaged, and ready for a career in the forestry sector as soon as they have completed the course. Successful applicants will be interviewed and vetted prior to entry in to the program to ensure long term employment success and retention.
In addition, students will be paired with businesses that require employees, and are willing to mentor individuals with the skills, abilities and desire to work in their areas of expertise. The goal is that at the end of the mentorship period, and upon successful completion of the program, the student will be retained for employment.
“We’ve got good buy-in for the program from the contractor community in Princeton and Merritt,” said Chamberlain.
“Currently, we know there will be a shortage of more than 20,000 forestry workers in the industry in the next 10 years,” he added. “It’s our hope that our three bodies working together can begin to fill those gaps by attracting and retaining the right workers who want to remain in the industry long term.” If it’s successful, the training program could be rolled out in other areas of the province.
ILA staff will be on hand at the conference/show in May to talk about this new training program, and the benefits of ILA membership, face-to-face.
Due to uncertainty related to COVID, the social aspects of the ILA conference—the dance/dinner—will have to wait until 2023, but it will be back in force next year. “We’ve already booked everything, including the social part of the conference, for next year, and it will be back better than ever.”
“For now, we’re going to concentrate on the meat and potatoes part of the ILA conference, the equipment show, conference and the AGM. We look forward to seeing everyone there,” said Chamberlain.
On the Cover:
Moggie Valley Timber, located in southwestern Ontario, is a sawmill that sells to lumber wholesalers and retailers, and has been in business for nearly a quarter-of-a-century. Moggie Valley Timber also carries out logging, cutting about 10 million board feet per year. On the logging side, in order to harvest the larger trees that Moggie Valley Timber comes across on woodlots in this part of Ontario, the company has invested in an Eco Log 590F harvester. Read all about how the Eco Log 590F is working out for Moggie Valley in this issue, beginning on page 34. (Cover photo and story photos courtesy of Moggie Valley Timber).
B.C.’s ILA show leading the pack …
B.C.’s Interior Logging Association is leading the pack when it comes to the re-start of forest industry events, with its equipment show and AGM coming up in May.
Cutting edge equipment—from cutting edge suppliers
A mill upgrade for Vicksburg Forest Products led to the company sourcing cutting edge equipment from a variety of suppliers—including from B.C. and Quebec.
Northland moves to partial processing—at the mill
Facing narrow log delivery windows, Alberta sawmill Northland Forest Products has decided to move to partial millyard processing, with two TreeKing processors.
Another successful convention expected for BC Saw Filer’s
The B.C. forest industry is facing challenges, but this year’s BC Saw Filer’s Convention & AGM—being held May 27 to 28 in Kamloops, B.C.—is expected to be just as big and successful as it was pre-COVID.
Iron investment handles bigger timber
Moggie Valley Timber has invested in an Eco Log 590F harvester to handle the larger trees that it comes across on woodlots in southwestern Ontario.
Canada’s Top Lumber Producers: West Fraser and Canfor on top!
Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s authoritative listing of Canada’s Top Lumber Producers—produced in association with leading forest industry consultants FEA—shows that West Fraser and Canfor are still the top lumber producers in the country.
New and Noted at the Oregon Logging Conference
The Oregon Logging Conference in February kicked off with great expectation following two years of in-person restrictions due to COVID. The OLC is widely known for its extensive, state-of-the-art equipment display—and we take a look at what was new at the show.
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 (CWFC) and FPInnovations.
From power upgrades to production improvements, read all about what’s new in small scale logging equipment in this issue’s Tech Update.
The Last Word
Forest giant Canfor is applying sustainability across its entire culture in a bid to prosper in a post-pandemic world.