The candidates for the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding in the 2020 provincial election. Clockwise from top left: Rob Clarke, Graham Hughes, Evan Jolicoeur, Helen Poon and Josie Osborne. (SUBMITTED PHOTOS)

BC VOTES 2020: Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates discuss forestry and the environment

Provincial election will take place on Oct. 24

In an effort to inform the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding constituents, we have supplied all candidates with a question. Each week, we will publish their answers to questions pertinent to this riding.

In this article, the five Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates answer the following question: “How do you and your party plan to balance B.C.’s forest industry and environmental protection?” (300 word maximum). Order of placement was done at random.

•••

EVAN JOLICOEUR

BC Green Party

It’s no secret how crucial the forestry industry is to the livelihoods and health of our families and communities. But the current model does not work and has not worked for a while. As the BC Greens candidate in a riding loaded with rich old growth, I’m committed to ensuring we preserve, protect and respect what is left of the old world for generations to come. Old growth forests are vital parts of Indigenous culture and biodiversity and are inextricably tied to our vital tourism industry.

Here in Central Vancouver Island, if we want this industry to survive then we need to close the loop—from planting, to managing, to harvesting, to trucking, processing and manufacturing. We need to regionalize the entire supply chain. BC Greens will support funding to communities so that they can prioritize ecosystem resilience. By creating community forests, locally owned mills and value-added manufacturing, we will all benefit from healthier forests and forestry communities that thrive for generations to come.

We’ve unveiled our comprehensive platform around forestry and environmental protection, including reforming forestry management in our province to serve the long-term needs of local communities and support a truly sustainable industry, where community and ecosystem values are the focus.

We will take back control of our forests from major corporations by beginning tenure reform that redistributes tenures and grows the proportion held by First Nations and community forests. We will undertake landscape-level, ecosystem-based planning, reforestation and restoration in partnership with local communities and First Nations. We must manage our forests holistically.

And we will generate more jobs and revenue from what we harvest, including putting an end to raw log exports. We will support forest workers and communities and promote more sustainable development of forest resources by investing in tourism opportunities and carbon economies.

•••

ROB CLARKE

BC Libertarian Party

Let’s liberate crown land for all of us—for our citizens and the forestry companies that are the lifeblood of our provincial economy.

We would scrap the current tenure agreement system. As these agreements expire, we would replace them with more permanent agreements initially based on a bidding process and ongoing with adherence to reasonable light regulation and stumpage rates.

The current short-term agreements lead to a pillage and plunder mentality. More permanent agreements would inspire companies or individuals through light regulation and monitoring to selectively log and replant for the future and to manage the land with a sense of responsibility and legacy.

For crown land closer to towns, clearcut or otherwise, we would see the land surveyed and made into acerages of various sizes. A system with clearly defined and fair rules and fees would be established for our citizens to convert these newly surveyed acerages to private land to inhabit and develop.

Thus generating much needed capital through the initial transfer fees and ongoing tax collection. The development of these acerages would create jobs and housing as well as increase their value and potential output.

As enterprising citizen owners develop these properties into farming and micro-forestry projects, it will provide employment and production that will invigorate our failing economy, as well as providing much-needed housing and food security.

When people have land, they have a chance to make food and goods to provide for themselves and their families and if all goes well, they make enough to share with others. Or, optimally, extra for export and sale, seeing positive cash flow from their toil and enjoying the feeling of freedom that land ownership provides.

•••

HELEN POON

BC Liberals

I strongly believe in the preservation of the beautiful, natural environment that surrounds us here in Mid Island-Pacific Rim, so that our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy the surroundings that we have come to know and love.

That is why under a BC Liberal government we will increase investments in silviculture to enhance the province’s tree-planting efforts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will introduce legislation to protect the working forest to provide increased certainty on the land base, while protecting and enhancing environmental values. We will take an expedited approach to certify mass timber products for structural construction. We will support the development of mass timber structural products to add value to our raw logs and create jobs here in our region.

Since the start of 2019, there have been 45 full or partial mill closures in B.C. More than 10,000 workers have been impacted or lost their jobs in B.C.’s forest industry. The Rural Dividend Fund was suspended this year, eliminating much-needed assistance to smaller communities. A BC Liberal government will implement a more efficient, effective and responsive market-pricing stumpage system to help keep our forest industry competitive. We will work with industry to modernize forest management practices and ensure B.C.’s forest industry is no longer the highest-cost producer in North America.

Our planned PST cut will also have a positive effect on the forest industry—from purchasing equipment and tools of the trade, to the consumer purchasing building materials.

•••

GRAHAM HUGHES

Independent

The forestry sector remains essential to our region, province and country’s economic stability. As long as there are human beings, there will be a demand for wood, pulp and other forest resources, and there will be businesses that profit by meeting that demand. Yet for decades—despite advances in technology, equipment, harvesting methods and worker rights—British Columbians have had an easier time seeing mill closures, worker layoffs and combative relationships with corporations and international policy agreements than any ability to see “sustainability” or economic benefits here at home.

A sustainable model means we protect our resources, and all that depend on it—which includes the communities that rely on the income from these resources. A stable forestry market includes well-paying, reliable jobs for local people. This is one of the largest economic reasons our community needs to embrace and advance reconciliation.

Concerns are often raised that transferring land ownership and resource control to First Nations will impact timber harvesting and processing on settlement lands and eliminate non-aboriginal jobs in forestry. None of this is true. The goals of our local Nations, from all I have spoken to, are the same as the goals of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 during the strike that cost many people their homes: people want to see forestry jobs be fair, accessible, reliable and protected, and provide funding to our communities and our families—and be there for our future as well. Corporations hold an important place in our economies, but they are no more important than our people.

Multiple studies have concluded that completing treaties with First Nations will deliver more than $10 billion in benefits to British Columbia’s economy over the next 15 years. As we go into a recession, we need to demand that local workers start to benefit from our resource industries.

•••

JOSIE OSBORNE

BC NDP

Forestry has been at the heart of B.C.’s economy for generations, and families and communities across our riding depend on it. The ecological health of our planet also depends on forests, as they shelter incredible biodiversity and clean the air we breathe. Across our riding, I hear daily from people who care about local forests – for ecosystem services like habitat and drinking water, for cultural and physical health and for livelihoods such as forestry, tourism or foraging.

Having lived in Clayoquot Sound for 22 years, it’s never been more to clear to me that we must change from divisive practices of the past to protect old-growth while supporting jobs and communities. It’s going to take commitment and hard work from all of us, but I believe that by working together we can find a sustainable path forward.

The BC NDP has protected 353,000 hectares of old growth forests, including more than 260,000 hectares here in the Clayoquot Sound. There is more work to do.

A re-elected BC NDP government will follow the recommendations of the September 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review and continue to support workers and their families, and help forest communities remain resilient, by:

· Taking a holistic approach to old-growth management that brings together Indigenous leaders and organizations, labour,

industry, environmental groups and communities.

· Expanding the use of new technologies, like mass timber, to create new opportunities while helping meet our net-zero target for reducing carbon pollution.

· Increasing jobs and value by working with industry and labour to dedicate a specific portion of the annual allowable cut towards higher value producers who can demonstrate their ability to create new jobs for workers in B.C.

· Planting more trees and continuing to make significant investments in forest health, wildfire protection, silviculture and revitalizing our forests.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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