Community poll identifies deep concern over state of BC forests
VANCOUVER, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - In the shadow of 3 mill closures over the past three years, more than 30
community leaders from north Vancouver Island communities attended a
community dialogue session to discuss solutions to the forestry crisis
in their region, amid deepening public concern over the state of BC
The working session, titled 'BC Forests. Our Future.' was organized by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union and
included Vancouver Island MLA's Claire Trevena and Scott Fraser, along
with Campbell River mayor Charlie Cornfield and representatives from
local governments, 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 over
15,600 forest jobs have been lost in the Vancouver Island coastal
region since 2000.
"More than 70 mills have closed across BC and over 40,000 forest sector
jobs have been lost since the BC Liberal government came to office,"
says 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
"We came to Campbell River to consult with local leaders, identify key
issues in this region, and work toward positive solutions to help
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 Campbell River and Courtenay-Comox area residents polled, 95 and
87 per cent respectively agreed that the forest industry was vitally
important to the economic health of their community, while 52 per cent
of Campbell River and 39 per cent of Courtenay-Comox respondents have
experienced job loss in their family in the last 2 years. A staggering
92 per cent of respondents who were aware of forest ministry layoffs
said they were a bad idea.
"There is a clear disconnect between the B.C. government's sunny
forestry rhetoric and the real experience of the people on the North
Island," says 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
2 other BC resource communities in coming weeks as part of a 4-city
tour, consulting with community leaders to develop positive solutions
to revitalize the forest sector and re-assert government control over
this valuable public resource.
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
Chris Bradshaw at 604-369-8411