When TimberWest presented itself as an ideal “corporate citizen” at Re-Think our Watershed, public relations clearly triumphed over tact.
But when they asked us to “just believe” that clear-cut “logging and drinking water can coexist”, we entered the realm of insult.
“Watersheds don’t have problems,” they said, “people and communities have problems.” Especially when we try to have things both ways at major ongoing loss to real citizens. Where TimberWest is not a corpo resident, governments easily agree with a fiscal lens that “the primary purpose of a watershed is to provide safe, clean water” – not board feet and stumpage fees.
TimberWest made outlandish claims of bringing a boon of jobs and revenue. Actually these were gutted over the past decade by widespread layoffs, automated machinery and raw log exports.
Campbell River lost 257 jobs and $5 million in tax revenue, about 10 per cent of the city’s budget, when TimberWest closed its mill there. Since 2008, their forestry sector lost at least 1,500 jobs – 10 per cent of the workforce laid off.
Courtenay’s mill closure killed 110 jobs and the cascade of instability continues. Many who “commuted” to work in Alberta – or lost jobs at Target – bear the cost of our lack of resilient local economic policies that put public interest first.
B.C. employs the fewest people per tree cut anywhere in Canada, and we provide 97 per cent of raw log exports. Ontario employs six times as many people for the same amount of trees cut.
Our industrial model with minimal processing is well known to have hurt families and watersheds across B.C.
The value of raw logs dropped 50 per cent in the last 15 years. We need an honestly sustainable approach that respects nature and provides good, stable jobs by adding value.
“Balance” isn’t just a PR buzzword; it’s an act – what actions will change?