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Coastal Clarion - Newsletter
Vol.5, Issue 4 · Winter 2009
Coast Forest recently completed its strategic planning to 2012, which included a session with Minister of Forests and Range Pat Bell to exchange industry and government viewpoints and priorities.
The ministry’s four priorities vary in their direct affect on the coastal industry. Premier Campbell government’s strong leadership on the “wood first” initiative will increase product demand and the Minister’s focus on increasing sales to China is reaping benefits although challenges remain for higher value, higher priced coastal products in the notoriously low price China market. Increased utilization, centred on bio-energy, remains largely an Interior opportunity; the lack of waste, combined with cost and technology challenges, limits the Coast’s bio-energy prospects but we continue to explore this area. The fourth priority of becoming a world leader in growing forests in concert with the commercial forest land reserve may present legitimate opportunities.
Coast Forest’s priorities are much more immediate and operational in nature as the industry struggles through the most impaired markets ever. Our overarching priority is to continue to drive competitiveness, which has policy dimensions as well as an advocacy element. Positive measures like the HST help with competitiveness and movement on municipal taxes will assist the industry in realizing future opportunities when markets turn around. On the advocacy side, Deputy Minister Dana Hayden’s focus on fostering industry competitiveness and optimizing government-industry interaction is helpful. Joint Operational Issues Forums have been successful in streamlining industry and government operations with the benefit of cost savings.
Government has committed to providing added protection for contractors for non-payment of logging services, but the lien protection sought by the contractor community will result in financial damage to industry financing far in excess of the size of the problem and could trigger unnecessary contractor and company insolvencies. We are working to find appropriate solutions that will not have unintended consequences.
Non-replaceable forest licences sourced from undercut volumes have failed in providing meaningful economic development opportunities. Increasingly, replaceable tenures are being offered to First Nations, communities and others. Cut control policies need to reflect these changing practices and evolving carbon management issues, and be amended so undercut volumes aren’t reapportioned and are retained in standing inventories.
Looking ahead, in 2011 the updated MPS must remain a principled, market- and data-driven approach that is also softwood-compliant. Finally, in the spring when the Coast enters into labour negotiations, it’s crucial they result in cost reductions and productivity improvements so the Coast can capitalize on the market recovery anticipated in mid-2011.
As we look forward all of these measures require continued leadership.
IMPROVING SAFETY ALWAYS A PRIORITY
Photo: Forestry Innovation Investment
Submitted by Peter Lineen, Chief Operating Officer of the B.C. Forest Safety Council, responsible for safety programs, training, outreach and industry liaison.
As of writing this article in early December, the forest sector has recorded three fatalities directly attributable to work in the industry during 2009 — three too many, and a stark reminder that we still have some distance to go.
After the B.C. Forest Safety Council’s inception in 2005, the serious injury rate in the harvesting sector dropped 17 per cent through 2008; and preliminary data indicates further reductions for 2009. This is welcome news for all concerned, especially in light of the severe pressures of the deep downturn over the last 24 months.
The Council has been very active the second half of this year in reviewing its programs, service delivery structures and staffing to support the industry to drive safety improvements faster through 2010. (CONT’D)
TRADE MISSION TO CHINA & JAPAN
Photos: Ministry of Forests and Range
TRADE MISSION TO CHINA AND JAPAN Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell, Deputy Minister Dana Hayden and a delegation of 25 industry representatives made a highly successful trade mission to China and Japan from November 6 to 14, 2009. Following 12 months from Minister Bell’s previous mission to China, the group was able to see some of the construction projects and remanufacturing facilities that have contributed to the impressive growth in Chinese consumption of B.C. lumber over the last year.
In Shanghai the delegation made stops at a re-roofing project where roof trusses made of B.C. lumber are being used in building renovations, a remanufacturing facility producing doors and windows from B.C. hemlock, and the Canada Wood College facility which trains builders, designers and other construction professionals in building with wood. The delegates also attended the official launch of the Shanghai Local Code and participated in a Memorandum of Understanding signing for an affordable housing project.
When a weather delay prevented most of the delegation from visiting the Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction projects in Sichuan Province, the Canada Wood Group’s Rick Jeffery and Greg Hoing, Forestry Innovation Investment’s Sally Liang and Canadian Consul General Ryan Baerg stepped in on behalf of Minister Bell to dedicate a plaque at the Dujiangyan Xiang’E School and attend a briefing with Qingchuan County government officials.
“Having seen the devastation at Dujiangyan last year, it is moving to see children learning in a new, safe, secure wood structure,” says CWG Chair Rick Jeffery. “School safety is a key priority, and a wood project of this scope is a positive advancement for wood frame technology and B.C. wood products.”
"Having seen the devastation at Dujiangyan last year, it is moving to see children learning in a new, safe, secure wood structure," says CWG Chair Rick Jeffery. "School safety is a key priority, and a wood project of this scope is a positive advancement for wood frame technology and B.C. wood products."
The Xiang’E school has already prompted the construction of one more wood school, and more will follow.
In Beijing, Minster Bell and a small group of forest company CEOs met with the Qiu Baoxing, China’s Vice Minister of Construction and agreed to a multi-year collaboration, including the construction of a 6-storey wood apartment in Beijing. Seventy-four per cent of China’s urban housing starts are in multi-family 6-storey structures, and engaging collaboratively with China’s Housing Ministry will allow B.C. wood products to gain a strong position in this huge and fast-growing segment of China’s construction sector.
Seventy-four per cent of China's urban housing starts are in multi-family 6-storey structures, and engaging collaboratively with China's Housing Ministry will allow B.C. wood products to gain a strong position in this huge and fast-growing segment of China's construction sector.
From Beijing, the group moved to Tokyo where they visited the Japan Home Show, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a new wood-frame elderly care centre and visited a museum featuring B.C. hemlock, SPF and Western red cedar. Minister Bell also met with the Director General of Japan’s Forestry Agency and provided correspondence confirming the sustainable and legal origin of forest products from British Columbia.
The Minister has also decided to implement an industry Board of Directors for the China market development activities, which will build on the existing collaboration and strong results of the CWG and FII China representatives in the market.
“The mission was a huge success in Japan and China” says Jeffery.
FISH AND CHIPS (LOGS) For the past two years, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, B.C. Timber Sales and Coast Forest have worked collaboratively to develop improved assessment and notification processes for log handling facilities along the Coast. On October 29, DFO, BCTS and Coast Forest sponsored a workshop, attended by over 60 forest company and federal and provincial regulatory personnel, along with other environmental practitioners, to update them on these processes, which affect heli-water drops, reactivated log dump operations and new log dump sites.
The new notification process for heli-water drops and re-activated log dumps achieves a good balance with respect to the operational requirements of the forest sector and those empowered to manage and protect the fishery resource. They provide a number of key benefits because they:
- Utilize DFO’s Risk Management Framework which defines activities that pose a low risk to fish and fish habitat;
- Streamline the regulatory review process;
- Provide clear direction for log handling site conditions and suitable operational practices; and
- Respect the mandate of DFO for protection of fish and fish habitat while recognizing the operational needs of the forest sector.
Paul Sprout, DFO’s Regional Director, Pacific Region, noted, “Today’s workshop is a culmination of a lot of good work, and a good milestone, but it is just one of the steps in the journey, not the end point”. In other words, industry proponents and agency regulators must use the new products as intended, assess how the products are working and make further improvements on a go-forward basis. In addition, the joint working group needs to continue developing similar efficiencies in the assessment and approval process for new log dumps.
PROVINCIAL OPERATIONS ISSUES WORKING GROUP Phil Zacharatos, Assistant Deputy Minister of Operations, initiated the establishment of a Provincial Operations Issues Working Group made up of industry and Operations Division staff to focus on moving forward the “not so” quick wins which were elevated from the regional quick-win process. As solutions are recommended and implemented for the first 10 issues identified as problematic across two or more regions, the group will also address policy issues that did not get short listed, on a go forward basis.
Of the “Top 10”, two road development cost issues, Forest Service Road cost recognition and removal of First Tributary Permit rule, have been handed off to the Director, Tenures and Revenue Branch and are waiting decision from the Ministry of Forests and Range Executive. The remaining issues have been endorsed by the ADMs and industry VPs Policy Co-ordination Group, and eight working groups are now reviewing and developing recommendations before year-end for matters, such as: enabling alternative scaling methods and the increased use of cruise based cutting authorities, encouraging efficiencies in RESULTS (silviculture reporting system), natural range barriers identification, special use permits administration and fees, draft open burning smoke control regulation development, administrative efficiencies for harvesting low value stands, and post harvest debris measurement, use and pricing.
Forests and Range Minister Bell met with industry CEOs early on and each has made a commitment to the Quick Win process, which has delivered some positive results at the Ministry’s regional and district levels. But while some progress has been made, there are still significant opportunities to be found in the remaining quick wins and “not so quick” wins which still require focus and follow through by senior decision makers. The key to sustaining change and our success on these matters will be continued leadership from the minister, deputy minister, senior decision makers and industry CEOs.
IMPROVING SAFETY ALWAYS A PRIORITY (CONT’D)
The Council has been very active...to support the industry to drive safety improvements faster
The challenges ahead are fourfold for the Council.
- Improve the SAFE Companies program on a number of fronts:
- Adjusting the audit to make it more user-friendly and less administrative
- Implementing a more effective way of completing maintenance audits during the three-year audit cycle
- Dramatically improving audit submission and review turn-around times
- Developing a better system to support companies as
- Foster reductions in hand faller injury rates with improved block planning and better training, monitoring and certification programs.
- Develop the resource roads project rapidly across the province to ensure a safer driving/hauling environment for log truck and other resource road users.
- Explore the integration of the forest products manufacturing sector into the Council programs in an efficient and meaningful way. (CONT’D)
IMPROVING SAFETY ALWAYS A PRIORITY (CONT’D) Solid changes in these areas will help set the stage for great industry-wide safety improvements.
To help achieve these goals, the Council has recruited two individuals with significant industry experience, who are well-qualified to help develop and lead the next levels of improvement. The Council’s new Director of SAFE Companies is Steve Chaplin, a former Environment, Health, and Safety Advisor with Western Forest Products. Based in Nanaimo, he will lead the program improvements as outlined. Chuck Carter, a former Canfor woodlands manager has taken the role of Director Transportation Safety and will work from the Council’s Prince George office.
On behalf of the Council, I wish to thank readers of this newsletter who constantly challenge themselves, their people and organizations to complete each day’s work in a safe manner. Sending your employees home uninjured is the best gift anyone can receive this holiday season, and all year long.
Sending your employees home uninjured is the best gift anyone can receive this holiday season, and all year long.