Raw log exports killing Alberni business: Fraser

British Columbia's raw log export policy is forcing mills like Coleman Road Shingle in the Alberni Valley out of business.

British Columbia’s raw log export policy is forcing small mills out of business, says Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser. One of those mills, Coleman Road Shingle, is right here in Port Alberni.

Butch Taylor has operated Coleman Road Shingle for 32 years. In 2000 he had enough work that he had to build a new mill, and increased his staff to 32 full-time workers from 12. Fast-forward a dozen years, one recession and multiple layoffs later, and Taylor is back to where he started.

Taylor said the whole reason his business is suffering is due to a lack of wood fibre.

“Right now we could put in a second shift if we had wood and we had people. But all our young people went to Alberta,” he said.

Coleman Road Shingle has produced cedar shakes and shingles for the roofing industry for more than three decades. Taylor started when cedar shingles were the only option; now, there are many options for roofing material, from asphalt shingles to metal roofs. Coleman Road Shingle has been able to compete with all of them.

But Taylor said he cannot compete with government policy. He was faced with having to close his mill until recently, when Western Forest Products was able to provide him with some wood. “Western came through with some wood for us so we’re back up running now,” he said.

“They’re bending over backward to help us.”

When the recession hit in 2008 and the housing market slowed, Taylor said his employees stepped up to the plate. His saw filer also does the books, and other employees are multi-tasking. Taylor himself, whose health issues have forced him to stop with the physical work, helps out as much as he can but doesn’t draw wages from the business.

The shingle mill has fought through market upswings and downswings before, but “this year it’s really hard and really scary,” Taylor said. “I’ve got people that have been here for 25 years. How do I go out and tell a guy that’s been here for 25 years that it’s the last day?

“It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Fraser defends business owners like Taylor and others who are affected by raw log exports. British Columbia exported 5.5 million cubic metres of wood last year alone, Fraser said.

“Liberals’ raw log export policy is killing his business,” Fraser said of Taylor.

“How can the minister (of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) justify the raw log policy when it’s putting people out of business?”

Fraser was due to confront the Liberals over raw log exports during question period in the B.C. legislature this afternoon.

Fraser is also critical of the Liberal government for its lack of action over Catalyst Paper entering creditor protection. “They haven’t even sent in a fact finder,” Fraser said. The province is not seeing the big picture when it comes to the threat of Catalyst Paper closing in B.C., he added.

Pensions are threatened for thousands of retired mill workers. And if the mill closes, it will also affect small mill owners like Taylor, who send their waste wood to Catalyst to be used as hog fuel. If the mill doesn’t need the hog fuel, mills won’t have anywhere to get rid of waste because they can’t dump it, Fraser said.

If Catalyst goes down “the entire ripple effect will be devastating,” he said.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

BC Transit to offer free bus services in Port Alberni on Election Day

Alberni Valley residents will be able to ride the bus for free on Election Day

ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artists show their love of nature

“Spirits of Earth, Wind and Water” is on now until Oct. 30

EDITORIAL: Port Alberni arts deserve our support

Portal Players Dramatic Society is poised to perform a popular musical beginning this week…

YouTube video of Revelstoke grizzly bear goes viral

Why did the grizzly bear cross the railway tracks?

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Woman charged with numerous drug offenses stemming from a raid earlier this year at Island property

Police make arrest on an outstanding warrant dating back to January

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

Kamloops man hangs on to back of stolen truck as suspect speeds away, crashes

The pickup truck was seen leaving the roadway before bursting into flames

Most Read