KAMLOOPS — It was an issue they hammered at while in opposition and one they raised often during last year's provincial election campaign: the NDP's quest to halt raw log exports.
B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson addressed the issue while in Kamloops recently, noting the level of raw exports, up to six million cubic metres a year until recently, is not satisfactory.
"That's not what communities want to see. Our way of addressing it is looking at methods for more B.C. logs to be processed in B.C. mills so that there's more jobs provided through the publicly held resource," he told reporters. "So, some of the things we're looking at are discussing with industry: what do they need in order to process more of the publicly held forests in their mills? And I'm saying to companies, what is government's role in this?"
Donaldson said he also planned to talk with Merritt Mayor Neil Menard on Monday about the issue, noting both him and area First Nations chiefs, are on the same page.
"What we've seen is a disconnect between the volumes and the publicly held forest resource and the positive impact that that can have on communities."
"My approach with not just Merritt but other communities is to talk to the major licensees and give them an option of providing me with solutions to improve the social license and the social contract. So, I've started those conversations and we'll see what they come back with," said Donaldson.
"And as far as Merritt goes, we'll be working with Aspen Planers to make sure that they get the volume they need to keep that mill running because it's the last one in town right now as far as major mills and Merritt deserves that facility. It's a publicly held resource."
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