Log truck convoy drives home message about dire state of B.C. forest industry
Log haulers say the effect of the forest industry downturn is widespread, disrupting businesses from barbers to grocery stores and everything in between
MERRITT, B.C. – A convoy of logging trucks gained some attention as protesting drivers blew their horns while winding their big rigs through Vancouver streets on Wednesday.
As many as 200 logging trucks left Merritt, nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, Wednesday morning in a demonstration by owners and drivers to highlight the effects of dozens of mill closures and thousands of layoffs in B.C.’s forest industry.
Dozens of trucks lined up for the chance to pass by the Vancouver Convention Centre, where local and provincial politicians are gathered for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Hundreds of people stepped out of the meetings to wave in support at the truckers, including Opposition Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.
Merritt business owners and log haulers Howard McKimmon and Frank Etchart organized the convoy and said participants have come from all parts of the province.
McKimmon said they have lost work because sawmill closures mean they are no longer needed to carry logs to the mills.
He said the effect of the forest industry downturn is widespread, disrupting businesses from barbers to grocery stores and everything in between.
“Forest-based communities depend on forestry jobs,” McKimmon said.
He said small-town B.C. is dying and he’s called for changes to the stumpage system to revive the industry.
A spokeswoman for the Forests Ministry said stumpage fees are set annually and paid by businesses cutting timber on Crown-owned land, but the fees can be adjusted quarterly, depending on market conditions.
Critics say if the fee was calculated more frequently, it might more accurately reflect the type and amount of wood being cut, potentially reducing costs for lumber companies.
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