B.C.’s Interior Loggers Will Have a Full Schedule

by | Apr 25, 2024 | 2024, Industry News, Logging & Sawmilling Journal, March/April 2024

Logging contractors and their supplier partners in British Columbia’s Southern Interior region are a pretty resourceful lot. They’ve had to be to adjust to adversity and the unexpected through the years.

While there’s not much in the short term logging contractors can do to influence a changing global economy and trading relationships amid evolving green technologies, they can—and are—finding better ways to do their job and help the regional economy in the process.

The Interior Logging Association’s (ILA) annual general meeting and convention is an important means to that end. The 66th edition of the annual event is scheduled this year for May 9 to 11 at the Coast Kamloops Hotel in the southern interior city. The fact that the ILA has been around that long speaks volumes about the effectiveness of its role within the regional log harvesting community.

The relationship was tested during the COVID epidemic and the enforced shutdown it created.

“We got through it because of our strong membership,” reflects Todd Chamberlain, the ILA’s general manager, based in Vernon, B.C. He recalls that he and Nancy Hesketh, the association’s office administrator, spent much of their time keeping the lines of communication open with the membership. They relied on ‘old tech’ methods like the telephone and newsletters. But another, more fundamental factor was also at play: “All of the association’s membership share a passion for this industry,” says Chamberlain.

Part of that is probably because the entire membership has a vested interest in the success of the harvesting sector. The loggers may be on the front line of change but new regulations and legislative edicts affect every link in the supply and service chain both regionally and across the province.

Keeping two-way communication lines open with the provincial government is a year round priority with the ILA. But the relationship assumes a different dimension during the ILA’s annual convention. Senior members of the Ministry of Forests are always in attendance. Chamberlain says he personally invited B.C. Premier David Eby to address this year’s event. Whoever the government’s representative is and delivers the address, the ILA’s executive has its opportunity to communicate. In a frank and private meeting, they have the chance to quiz senior government officials. The exchange benefits both parties, reckons Chamberlain. The government’s presentation is set for a luncheon meeting Friday May 10.

A trade show is an integral part of the ILA’s convention experience, blending both its business and social sides. The exhibitors take advantage of the opportunity to display or demonstrate the latest log harvesting equipment and services available on the market. The informal one-on-one nature of the trade show makes getting business done easier.

Chamberlain reports early commitments for both indoor and outdoor space at this year’s convention were at least on a par with last year’s successful event.

The BC Forest Safety Council will again be presenting a regional safety conference as part of the ILA convention. It will bring attendees up to date with the latest information on key factors affecting operating a safe work place. These are scheduled to include mental health issues, changes to first aid regulations and updates to company safety plans. This might include the latest regional hospital emergency room closures, summarizes Chamberlain.

The ILA convention organizers have other, lighter fare planned for the agenda. A log loading competition is on the menu. The timed event focus is on four stacked logs, each about 10 feet long. The objective sounds easy, the execution against the clock not so much.

Another feature in the proceedings this year will be Tyler Welfing. He’s a Vernon-based chainsaw carver and he is scheduled to have some of his work on display. And he’ll entertain ‘cut to order’ requests from the audience.

The convention is crowned on the Friday night with a dinner/dance. Music will be provided by the Shawn Lightfoot Band. The winner of a silent auction will be revealed and therein hangs a bittersweet tale. Monies raised will be donated to further awareness of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopoly (CTE) which is a progressive and degenerative brain disease. The condition claimed Ty Pozzobon’s young life in 2017. Just a year earlier, Ty was Canada’s bull riding champion, competing on the international rodeo circuit. Pozzobon’s extended family is dedicated to helping promote a better understanding of CTE and recognizing its signs. Many in the family work in the regional forest industry. Fred Lowe, a lifetime logging truck driver, is Ty’s grandfather and a family patriarch. Assuring Ty’s legacy has now become part of the ILA convention’s tradition.

The latest information on the ILA convention is available at www.interiorlogging.org

 

B.C.’s Interior loggers continue push for a Working Forest

It’s been another challenging year for the log harvesting sector in British Columbia’s Southern Interior region.

“The reality is that associations representing logging contractors have always had to deal with adversity, changes in government policy, adaptation to new technologies and certainly challenges faced in the labour market,” outlines Tim Menning, chairperson of the ILA for the last year.

“The job of representing the interests of logging contractors consists of an ever-changing menu of interconnected issues, ranging from safety regulations to First Nation policies, environmental expectations and regulations, rate negotiations with major forest licencees and numerous other interactions with government and non-government agencies.”

Menning is a partner in Hytest Timber Ltd, a log contracting business he co-founded at Williams Lake in 1986. It was the beginning of a time for consolidation in B.C.’s Interior forest sector. Licencees competed for acquisitions to grow and gain timber cutting rights. Hytest originally worked for the family-owned Jacobson Brothers sawmill in Williams Lake.

It was subsequently purchased by Riverside Forest Products which in turn was acquired by Tolko Industries. Today, accessing adequate volumes of timber is a paramount concern for the ILA membership.

“The reduction in annual allowable cut due to the liquidation of the mountain pine beetle damaged stands—along with government initiatives like the old growth project coupled with a staggering onset of regulatory burden—has contributed to our sector being forced to try to run our operations in the face of the highest cost of timber in North America,” continues Menning.

The exclusions of ever increasing volumes of B.C.’s publicly owned land is leaving the forest industry on the outside looking in. The idea of establishing and preserving a land base with a forestry first designation has been promoted by various forest industry organizations in recent years.

“I believe it’s imperative that government look to re-establishing the concept and support mechanisms required for a true Working Forest,” says Menning. “The deterioration of this promise has occurred over the last number of years to the point where the forest industry’s ability to access timber has become a residual function of regulatory processes rather than a driving priority.”

B.C.’s Southern Interior has been severely affected by wildfires in recent years. It culminated in 2023 with the province’s worst fire season on record. More than 2.84 million hectares of forest land were burned according to BC Wildfire Service statistics. The ILA and the wildfire service have been communicating during the winter to prepare for the 2024 season.

“The ILA has recently engaged with the wildfire service to offer advice and support to facilitate the timely and efficient disposition of our expertise and heavy equipment in delivering successful outcomes on the land base,” says Manning.

 

ILA Exhibitor List

ACERA INSURANCE

ANSER MFG.

ASPEN CUSTOM TRAILER

AXIS FORESTRY

BC FOREST SAFETY COUNCIL

BCTS KAMLOOPS

BLACK TUSK HELICOPTERS

BRANDT TRACTOR

CANADIAN EQUIPMENT FINANCE

CARVEWEL CREATIONS

CRUX CHIROPRACTIC

DAWSON TRUCK CENTRES

DEARBORN FORD SALES

EVOLUTION MECHANICAL

FINNING (CANADA)

FIRST NATIONS FORESTRY COUNCIL

FREFLYT INDUSTRIES INC.

GREAT WEST EQUIPMENT

HEARING LIFE

JIM PATTISON LEASE

KAMLOOPS FORD LINCOLN

KAMLOOPS TIRECRAFT

LINDE CANADA

LOGGING & SAWMILLING JOURNAL

MACLEOD FOREST SERVICES

NOR-MAR INDUSTRIES LTD

NORTHFACE GRAPPLE TIPS

PEERLESS

PROFAB MANUFACTURING LTD.

R. JAMES WESTERN STAR

ROYAL INLAND HOSPITAL

S.T.E.P. BC CONSTRUCTION

SKYLINE MODELS

SMS EQUIPMENT INC.

SOUTHSTAR / QUADCO

STREAMLINE TECHNOLOGIES

SUPPLY POST

T-MAR INDUSTRIES LTD.

TEAAMS AREOMEDICAL

TEAM AUCTIONS

TELUS BUSINESS SOLUTIONS

THE INLAND GROUP

TOP DOWN ENTERPRISES INC

TRU

VALHALLA EQUIPMENT

VELOCITY TRUCK CENTRES

VESPER TRANSPORT LTD.

WAJAX

WARATAH FORESTRY

WELDCO BEALES

WESTERN GASCO

WESTLAKE CONTRACTING

WOODLAND EQUIPMENT INC.

WORKSAFE BC

Jim Stirling

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