Ross pleased with forestry forum in Terrace

Hillary Johnson, John Crawford

It was called "Rethinking Forestry" -- yesterday, members of the Terrace area gathered at the Days Inn, to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the forest industry by stimulating economic development and employment.

The forum was hosted by Skeena Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, and delved into the pressing issues facing the forest industry.

Ross said he was hopeful for constructive and meaningful discussions and was pleased with the turnout, but more needs to be done.

"If the government decides to help the forest industry which they are not doing right now, they're going to help the workers, they got anything to put down on paper for the forest industry itself, but if they do we got to be apart of the positive discussion we got to be apart of the legislative discussions. I hope that we can get over the politics, and we can talk about long term solution," he said.

Ross added local communities have a lot to lose if these issues are not resolved soon.

[Liberal MLA's Ellis Ross (Skeena) and John Rustad (Nechako-Lakes) at "Rethinking Forestry" Forum in Terrace - Oct 3, 2019 -- Steve Ross CFTK]

The head of a Terrace-based forest company says addressing the hard times facing the industry is going to require a lot of effort.

Roger Keery, who is president of Skeena Sawmills, and its Skeena Bio-energy pellet plant, says his operations have been feeling the effects of the downturn in the industry, although not as much as other companies around BC.

[Roger Keery, President, Skeena Sawmills]

"Because our business has developed in Asia, and we have a very strong market following in Asia, we feel that if we continue to manage our business well, that we're going to continue to operate and not be as negatively effected as some of our colleagues that are depending on the US market," said Keery, but he added a real challenge for his company is attracting capital in order to improve the mill's facilities.

BC Liberal Forestry Critic John Rustad -- the MLA for Nechako-Lakes -- says the impacts are being felt in communities across his riding and around BC.

And solutions are urgently needed.

"What I'm really hoping for is a northwest vision for how they would like to see forestry; there's so much potential, we've got great growing sites that we could be doing so much with our forest industry here, and over the decades, we haven't seen the kind of investments and strategies that we need in order for us to have a healthy sector," said Rustad.

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