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Prince George business leader rips B.C. government over value-added wood decision

Secondary manufacturers to be limited to 10 per cent of B.C. Timber Supply.
John Brink, owner of Brink Forest Products says the province's intention to allocate 600,000 cubic-metres of timber annually to the value-added forest sector is one-tenth of what it should be and says the policy will cripple B.C. businesses.

John Brink is angry about the B.C. government’s decision to allocate 10 per cent of B.C.'s annual allowable cut to the value-added forest sector.

The owner of Brink Forest Products says the allocation should be 10 times the 600,000 cubic metres the province intends to reserve for secondary manufacturers.

"If it is 600,000 cubic metres annually that is nothing, that is not even the size of a regular sawmill," Brink said. “That means the government has said, ‘We don’t want value-added manufacturing.’ If you do not have reasonable expectation of access to fibre, why would anybody invest in value-added manufacturing?”

B.C. Timber Sales controls between six million and eight million cubic metres of timber, which represents about 20 per cent of the annual allowable cut, and Brink says all of that should be made available to value-added bidders.

He predicts the restricted timber supply available will cripple value-added businesses and deter investment in B.C.

“There is not much left of the value-added sector in British Columbia, virtually none left in northern B.C.,” Brink said. “There are three or four companies here (in northern B.C) and I’d be surprised if there’s two left in a couple months from now.”

In the mid-1990s, when Brink was founding president of the BC Council of Value-Added Wood Processors, there were eight associations and 800 member companies, two-thirds of which are no longer operating.

Forests Minister Bruce Raltson made the value-added announcement Tuesday. The government says the 10 per cent allocation for secondary forestry licensees to bid on is an initial offering and more volume is expected in the future.

Tuesday’s announcement comes a week after the province unveiled its BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund, a $90 million program to prop up the struggling forest industry. Brink says the fund is more to help forestry workers transition from layoffs due to mill closures and he has no intention of applying for any government funding.