BC has lost over half of it’s non-tenured family owned value added wood processors in the last dozen years. The members of the Independent Wood Processors Association require access to a share of the BC Public’s forest resource and they require access to the US market.
The first requirement has been stymied by the forest policy changes of 2003 which allowed 5 big public mega-companies to consolidate control of the BC Public’s non-competitive timber harvest.
The second requirement has been stymied by the desire of these same companies to pay a Softwood Lumber Agreement imposed tax to continue to avoid having to compete for the BC Public’s timber.
The result is that we no longer have a functioning market for logs and lumber in BC and the small community based value added companies that do compete for all their wood fiber, have to pay a tax that is designed to offset the benefits that accrue to those that do not have to compete.
We have no issue with Big Lumber’s desire to pay an off-set tax as the price of continuing to have exclusive access to the Public’s administratively priced non-competitive harvest. But we have a huge issue with Big Lumber expecting us to subsidize them by paying part of that price on their behalf.
Unfortunately, the BC Lumber Trade Council that represents Big Lumber, has informed us that they have instructed the BC Government to try and reach an Agreement that would have the non-tenured Competitive Sector companies pay part of the price on their behalf once again.
Since 2003, 54 of 107 IWPA members have had to close their doors due to the consolidation of Big Lumber and due to being taxed for employing British Columbians to add value to BC grown wood fiber in BC.
If we are to survive the next Softwood Lumber Agreement, we need Big Lumber to pay the entire cost of retaining their exclusive access to the non-competitive harvest.
On behalf of its members, the IWPA will continue its efforts to have the BC and Canadian Governments realize this and negotiate an SLA that has the tenured companies pay the entire cost of retaining the benefits of the tenures we have granted to them.