BANKRUPT COMPANY RETAINS CUTTING RIGHTS TO CROWN TIMBER, MACDONALD SAYS
December 16th, 2011
Logs that once fed a now-closed sawmill in Kitwanga could now be added to the growing shipment of exported logs, just months after the premier flew to the north west for the ribbon-cutting.
Parent company Pacific BioEnergy applied for bankruptcy protection for the now-shuttered Kitwanga mill, but the company still owns the cutting rights for approximately 88,000 cubic metres of wood in the north-west corner of B.C.
“The company bought the assets of the mill, which included its tenure, but the cutting rights were separated from the mill,” said New Democrat forests critic Norm Macdonald. “Now the company can do whatever it likes with those logs. They could ship them to China, if that’s what they want to do, or they could use them for other purposes.
“Meanwhile, workers are left waiting for severance and Kitwanga is left without what was a significant primary employer.”
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson said workers will undoubtedly be disappointed that the company made the decision to shut the mill and use the logs elsewhere, but he said the primary responsibility lies with the Liberal government.
“The premier made grand promises when she stood in front of the mill in July,” said Donaldson. “She left nothing but false hope for the workers, their families and the community this mill supported. Now that the mill is closed and the company has declared bankruptcy, the premier has vanished.
“Meanwhile, the workers took significant pay cuts to restart the mill. Those workers deserve better. Communities like Kitwanga deserve better.”
“This is the end result of the mindset of the Liberals,” said Macdonald. “They don’t get that you can’t have a healthy forest industry if workers and communities are abandoned, like they have been under this Liberal government.
“But let’s be clear about this main point: B.C. logs should create B.C. jobs. They shouldn’t be shipped to create jobs at a mill in China. That’s what’s happening because of Liberal forest policy.”
More than 35,000 jobs have been lost from forestry in the 10 years the Liberals have been in power. Meanwhile, raw log exports have skyrocketed in the last two years.
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe that B.C. logs should support B.C. jobs as part of a forest strategy that respects First Nations, environmental and local needs.