The B.C. Council of Forest Industries (COFI) recently released a study indicating Burns Lake as one of the top 15 regions for industry spending.
In early 2020, COFI commissioned a regional supply chain study that found $7 billion worth of goods and services were purchased in 2019 from around 9,900 province-based companies and Indigenous suppliers. COFI represents majority of lumber, pulp and paper, and manufactured wood producers from across the province.
“This study is a reminder of the importance of our industry to the fabric of our province. As we look to recover from the devastating impact of this global pandemic, our sector can help lift more British Columbians up by keeping our operations running and continuing to buy goods and servicesfrom local businesses,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of COFI, in a press release.
Notably, the study found that Burns Lake, is among the top 15 municipalities in B.C. with a total spend of $129 million.
“This is very interesting . I was floored to see that this number was that high. Wow,” said Burns Lake Community Forest (BL Comfor) general manager Frank Varga.
The study took note of 340 communities and 120 Indigenous affiliates within the province. For the Burns Lake region, the spend was distributed over nearly 140 suppliers.
“From a community forest perspective we have always known that community forest agreements are an integral component of economic development and social support at the local level. We are fortunate to live in a community where our industry puts considerable efforts and support behind our community well-being. All this cannot happen without a strong forest industry,” said Varga.
The study also highlighted donations by the forestry sector with roughly 800 organizations in over 100 municipalities and First Nations across the province receiving them. The top three areas of community investments were for service clubs and non-profit agency support with 147 community investment partners benefiting 45 communities, educational support, literacy and libraries receiving investment from 119 community partners that benefited 43 communities and recreation and land-based users received investment from 82 community partners benefiting 38 communities.
“You don’t have to look far — look at the most recent Fun Frost event sponsorship list and the Rotary auction. Locally just BL Comfor puts well over 150-200 thousand annually into non-for-profit groups through donation. This does not include the annual dividend distributions we have seen to the village and our First Nation partners which has been over 1.2 million annual,” said Varga.
The other municipalities in the region, with a large number of forestry suppliers and spend that made the top 25 list, were Prince George, with the greatest number of forestry suppliers province-wide, totaling 970 and an industry spend of $718 million, Smithers with roughly 170 suppliers and $68 million spend and Houston with $96 million spend. Other cities in B.C.’s Interior regions also had very significant forest industry supply chains.
“I had never expected to see that the forest industry in Burns Lake put over $129 million into the economy. I guess it goes to show why we will always be the life blood of this district, and why other sectors can never replace natural resources as a revenue generation for economic prosperity,” concluded Varga.