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Federal government says no to relaxing log export rules

News comes after Steelworkers, Mosaic ask for ‘temporary relief’ on log export policy
Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News

The federal government will not be making any changes to its log export policy, says Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns.

The subject came up in May after Mosaic Forest Management asked the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 for support in asking for temporary relief on log exports from private land. The company said this type of relief would assist it in starting up again after a protracted curtailment.

READ MORE: Steelworkers, Mosaic strike deal they hope can kickstart idled Vancouver Island logging operations

“We have a commitment from the federal government that they won’t be making any changes around federal Notice 102 or circumnavigating the timber export advisory committee,” Johns said Friday (May 29) after attending the official opening of San Group’s HewSaw mill in Port Alberni.

“That’s good news because fibre that’s coming from our forests should be always given first access and priority to our local mills and processors and manufacturers.”

Mosaic Forest Management and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 last month jointly announced agreements-in-principle to increase collaboration between both the company and union. As part of that announcement, USW supported “immediate temporary relief on federal log export policy for private land to kickstart the coastal forest sector.”

Mosaic and the USW differed on how long a temporary reprieve might have looked: Mosaic chief forester Domenico Iannidinardo saying six months, and USW Local 1-1937 president Brian Butler saying more like three months.

“The support Mosaic requested was for us to participate in a lobby of the federal government…to temporarily allow a specific volume of logs—consistent with Mosaic’s traditional export volumes—to be exported for the purpose of allowing Mosaic operations to start up in a manner that was economical,” Butler wrote in a statement to the Alberni Valley News.

“Without approval of the federal government for relief or agreement from domestic buyers to paying higher prices for logs, Mosaic advised they could not restart operations,” he added.

“Without replenishing the log supply on the coast by restarting Mosaic operations it negatively affects the whole coastal industry, including domestic manufacturers and pulp mills.”

Butler said it is important to note no private landowner or Crown land licensee is able to export pulp logs or certain species of logs, such as western red cedar and cypress, regardless of any type of temporary relief the federal government may have agreed to. “Any actual changes in federal log export regulations remain with the federal government.”

Butler said the union’s support for Mosaic’s desire for temporary relief “will not negatively impact their ability to access the fibre they need to operate. In fact, it would help domestic manufacturers and pulp mills by increasing the volume of logs available in the coastal supply chain.”

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Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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