MAPLE RIDGE (September 4, 2019) – No part of our province is immune from the forestry crisis – a reality that is becoming increasingly clear as British Columbia’s coastal sector faces the difficult news that Interfor is permanently closing its Hammond sawmill in Maple Ridge.
This closure comes amidst silence from Maple Ridge’s two NDP MLAs. Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith have done nothing to support their constituents’ concerns over forced supportive housing in the community, and they are yet again M.I.A. on the forestry crisis.
“With the coastal forestry sector now facing the same curtailments and closures as the interior sector, the Lower Mainland is going to start feeling the same negative effects,” says Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Critic and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “The BC Liberals put a five-point plan on the desk of the inept Forests Minister months ago, listing immediate actions his government could take to help stem the flow of job losses in the troubled sector. But thousands of job losses later, still nothing from his government.”
So far in 2019, there have been at least 146 weeks of operational downtime announced at various mill operations throughout B.C. In total, more than 55 mills have been impacted by permanent closures and significant shift reductions, while hundreds of millions of board feet have been curtailed.
“To date, rural B.C. and the forestry sector have been totally ignored by John Horgan and the NDP. If it takes closures in the Lower Mainland to finally get them to act, then so be it,” added Rustad. “John Horgan needs to stop pretending the crisis doesn’t exist and support the sector that has literally helped build this province.”
Many British Columbians may not know that of the approximate 140,000 forestry jobs across B.C. (a number in sharp decline under the BC NDP), 40 per cent of these jobs are in the Lower Mainland.
John Horgan and the NDP continue to ignore the BC Liberals’ calls for action as the forestry sector slides deeper into crisis – leaving hard-working B.C. families to pay the price.
British Columbians deserve action now.