Community poll shows deep concern over state of BC forests
VANCOUVER, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - More than 30 West Kootenay community leaders
gathered in Castlegar on Wednesday for a community dialogue session
seeking solutions to the forestry crisis in their region, amid
deepening public concern over the state of BC forests.
The working session, titled 'BC Forests. Our Future.' was organized by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union and
included local MLAs Katrine Conroy and Michelle Mungall, representation
from local governments and MP's office, forest sector unions and
non-profit stakeholder groups in the region.
BCGEU president Darryl Walker set the stage for the dialogue by
outlining the challenges facing BC's forest sector - noting that
unemployment in the Kootenay region has almost doubled in the last
three years, while direct and indirect forestry jobs have been cut
almost in half.
"More than 70 mills have closed and over 40,000 forest sector jobs have
been lost since the BC Liberal government came to office," said Walker.
"Over 1000 forest ministry jobs have been eliminated. Compliance and
enforcement has been dramatically scaled back, while changes to
legislation allow forest companies to effectively regulate themselves.
"We came to Castlegar to consult with local leaders, identify key issues
in this region, and work towards positive solutions that will help to
revitalize our forest sector and generate long-term benefits for local
The BCGEU also shared results from a recent poll of local residents
showing a community deeply concerned about the effect of forest policy
on their lives.
Of the 200 Castlegar area residents polled, 96 per cent said that the
forest industry was critically or somewhat important to them
personally, and fully 50 percent said they have suffered a recent job
loss in their family. A staggering 91 per cent of respondents said that
forest ministry layoffs were a bad idea. Tellingly, 79 per cent agreed
that the Ministry of Forests is not currently fulfilling its public
mandate to protect and enhance BC's forests.
"There is a clear disconnect between the B.C. government's sunny
forestry rhetoric and the real experience of the people of the West
Kootenays," said Walker. "People who live in resource communities have
to live with the results of government neglect every day."
Walker noted that the BCGEU will conduct community dialogue sessions in
3 other BC resource communities in coming weeks, consulting with
community leaders and working to develop positive solutions to help
revitalize the forest sector.
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SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611