By Dave Lewis, Times Colonist
June 1, 2011

I continue to read letters stating that mills are shutting down because of a lack of timber. Mills that can only pay $60 for logs that cost $80 do tend to run out of timber pretty quickly.

On the coast, there is a 15-million-metre timber processing capacity and our sustainable harvest level is 24 million metres. There is no shortage of timber for local mills. There is a shortage of people prepared to lose money in order to sell it for less than it costs to harvest it.

Logs are exported because foreign buyers can pay $80 for timber. Log exports are a product of uneconomic mills, not the cause of them.

Would I rather see local sawmilling jobs? Absolutely. But until the domestic manufacturing sector can afford to pay $80 for timber that costs $80, we will continue to shut mills.

If we restrict log exports, we will not improve the local mills’ ability to pay $80. Instead, we will just add to the amount of our sustainable timber that is never harvested and will continue to lose harvesting jobs.

While the cost to harvest timber continues to rise and the ability of domestic mills to pay that cost falls, we will continue to see mill closures and job losses.

Dave Lewis

Executive director

Truck Loggers Association

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