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John Brink tears into provincial government over value-added wood ruling

The owner of Brink Forest Products is taking aim at the BC government’s announcement when it comes to value-added lumber.

Earlier this week, the province said it would dedicate 10% of its available timber supply to the value-added forestry sector.

John Brink told Vista Radio that’s not nearly enough to make it worthwhile for operations like theirs.

“This would be about 10% of the 20% that was initially designated to value-added manufacturers. So, the value is relatively small – virtually insignificant, it would not even supply one lumber mill.”

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Brink added if the province wishes to be more competitive on the global market, the government needs to pull up its socks.

“If we want to interest people to invest in value-added manufacturing there must be a reasonable expectation of access to fibre. A lot of times that is lumber. To have interaction between primaries and secondaries you must have something that they would like to get.”

The BC Timber Sales Value Added Manufacturing Program will be open to facilities producing high-value products such as mass timber, veneer, plywood, panelling, and flooring.

The announcement was made less than a week after it launched the 90-million dollar Manufacturing Jobs Fund during the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George.

Brink who has owned Brink Forest Products stated the forestry sector has found it difficult to recover post-pandemic.

“It is probably one of the more difficult times that I have seen in the forest industry which means in the primary sector as well as the secondary one. The prices are low following COVID-19, and people are hard to get back to a semblance of normalcy and the cost of fibre is very, very high.”

Brink referenced a government program in the 1990s’ to make timber available to value-added manufacturers. It was called the Small Business Program where 20% of the Annual Allowable Cut was designated to value-added manufacturers.

“The purpose was to have something to trade or to make available to the ones that had lumber in most cases to incent them to interact with the secondary market, which used to be quite difficult.”

“Unfortunately, that program was eliminated in 2002 and 2003, and then with that, some other programs were eliminated but the incentive to make value-added products started to disappear because there was no reasonable access to fibre or lumber was virtually impossible to get.”

2023 has been a dreadful year for the forestry sector. Earlier this month, Canfor announced that it’s eliminating 300 jobs from its pulp line at the PG Pulp and Paper Mill.

On Tuesday, Tolko Industries stated that it extended its downtime at its Soda Creek and Armstrong operations.

In late December the company announced a temporary curtailment for the month of January, and that will now extend through February.

In addition, Sinclar Forest Products implemented a two-week curtailment at Apollo Forest Products in Fort Saint James, Nechako Lumber in Vanderhoof, and Lakeland Mills in PG, which begins January 30th.

Today (Wednesday), Canfor also announced a two-year shutdown at its Houston facility pending on-site renovation. Furthermore, the company’s Chetwynd Sawmill and Pellett Plant will be closing down permanently.

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