President & CEO, Coast Forest Products Association
The Future of Coast is Now
As Coast Forest Products Association completes its final days of operation, I’m reminded of the fact that while the players may change, the coastal forest sector is – and will always be an important and permanent fixture in British Columbia. In this job I have said a thousand times that every day the men and women in this industry show up, roll up their sleeves and get to work. It is this work ethic, integrity, innovation, thoughtfulness and respect for the land that has allowed the industry to meet its challenges.
These 40,000 men and women will continue to tackle the issues of their time. At the present however, the industry is in a tough place. Trade uncertainty with our biggest export market has expanded across the lumber and pulp sectors and is making an enormous impact. We have always been a high cost producer given our world class sustainable forest management, family supporting employment, challenging terrain and social milieus. The assault on our costs needs to be addressed – through measures that keep coastal forestry companies competitive in the global marketplace.
The good news is that the coastal forestry sector strives to innovate and modernize. We are always looking to find ways to further improve our existing partnerships with First Nations. We are known world-wide for being the most sustainable forest industry on the globe, conserving forests, ecosystems and species at risk. Coastal forestry companies produce and manufacture the most sustainable construction materials on the planet. Taken together, meeting all of these requirements is costly and time intensive but the bottom line is that they are key for the good of our planet and every being that lives on it.
And while we are proud of who we are, what we do and where we are going, we compete to sell our forest products and services with companies in other jurisdictions worldwide that do not comply with the same high standards by which we operate. This can make their products and services less costly than ours and increase their attractiveness to investors worldwide at the expense of coastal BC forestry companies.
The coastal BC forest sector must have the ability to continue to attract investment if it is to move forward and grow. For this to happen, we must be supported by smart, practical policies which reflect science-based facts. All levels of government must recognize the reality of the impact on companies due to the current dynamics of our international trade agreements. We must be able to operate in a tax and regulatory environment where companies can continue to employ thousands of British Columbians with good, family supporting jobs living up and down our coast as well as continue to support our province’s healthy and sustainable economy.
Change is constant and we must constantly adapt. With COFI once again representing both coastal and interior forestry companies with a strong, unified association voice, I am excited to see what the future holds for BC’s forest industry and its place on the globe. It has been my pleasure to serve the member companies of Coast Forest Products Association