Putting a face to softwood lumber

Northern B.C. mayors are starting a campaign to showcase impacts

  • Jul. 19, 2017 10:00 a.m.

A group of northern B.C. mayors and a regional district chair are starting a campaign to put a face to the challenges faced by the forest products industry and impacted communities.

Last month the U.S. announced anti-dumping duties of 6.87 per cent to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S. This was on top of a preliminary countervailing duty of 19.88 per cent, for a total rate of 26.75 per cent.

The idea of starting a campaign was suggested by Bill Miller, chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, during the North Central Local Government Association meeting in Terrace last May.

“Bill brought a few of us mayors and regional district chairs together and started a conversation about trying to do something as a region regarding the softwood lumber negotiations,” explained Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, who has taken the lead on this project.

“What we have in mind is to try to put a community face in the softwood lumber negotiations and what the current tariffs and anti-dumping duties mean to our communities and to our industry,” he said. “And quite honestly, what it means for the rest of the province because it’s a huge economy for the entire province.”

The mayors of 100 Mile House, Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Mackenzie are also involved in this project.

“What we are attempting to do is to put a plan in place where we can deliver our message to municipal governments in the southern parts of the province, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade… we’d like to take the message whenever we can throughout the province,” said Hall.

“We’ll try to get our message delivered particularly in the northern part of Washington state because it’s a market for our forest products,” he continued.

“The best case scenario would be for us to shed some real light on the need for a negotiated settlement on the softwood lumber agreement and what it means not only to a city like Prince George or Burns Lake, but also to places like Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.”

Hall said the campaign is still in its initial states of planning. The leaders involved in this project plan to meet this week to continue discussions on what this campaign will involve, how much it will cost and who will pay for it.

“Once we have a plan in place we’ll start to notify media and communities.”

Hall said that so far he’s received nothing but positive feedback.

“People in the industry we’ve talked so far said this is a great initiative; for us it’s about getting the message out about the impact, and so far we’ve had a very good response.”

Hall added that the campaign will likely start off at a slower pace and then gain momentum as it moves forward.

“We still got a tremendous amount of work to do, but we’ll get that done and I’d like to see us get the message stating to flow out in early fall,” he said. “There is a message here that needs to be formulated and we need to get that out.”

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