Local mills like Kalesnikoff Lumber are being put under pressure by the province’s proposed logging moratorium. Opponents of old growth logging say almost all the province’s giant trees have been cut down. Opponents of the moratorium say up to 20 B.C. mills could be forced to shut down if it goes ahead. Photo: Tamarack Media/Nelson Chamber of Commerce

Local mills like Kalesnikoff Lumber are being put under pressure by the province’s proposed logging moratorium. Opponents of old growth logging say almost all the province’s giant trees have been cut down. Opponents of the moratorium say up to 20 B.C. mills could be forced to shut down if it goes ahead. Photo: Tamarack Media/Nelson Chamber of Commerce

BUSINESS BUZZ: Part 3 of the Buzz’s annual year in review

Darren Davidson covers off items under N through T in Nelson business

Happy New Year everyone … The Buzz is back with its first instalment of 2022 and part three of our A-Z year in review/preview. Today, parts N-to-T.

Here’s Part 1 and Part 2 in case you missed them.

N — As in, nice. Two new studies from Selkirk College’s research and innovation division, Selkirk Innovates, show that we Kootenay folk are a giving bunch. Up to 2019, 18 per cent of all the people who file taxes in the Columbia Basin give tax-deductible donations to charity. That’s about 24,000 Columbia Basin-Boundaryites. The number is right on track with the rest of B.C. Over a seven-year period, the total amount of charitable donations per year in our region grew by almost 15 per cent, from $31 million in 2013 to over $35 million in 2019. But the percentage of donators has in fact gone down, by two per cent. The people who give the most? Those who’ve done the most for our society thus far — folks over 65.

O— Omicron. What can be said … how about if you get it, get rid of it, and get on with it. Here’s hoping there’s nary a pandemic word in our 2023 A-to-Z …

The Old Growth Moratorium. The moratorium is creating nerve-wracking uncertainty amongst environmentalists and smaller local operations alike, including ATCO, Porcupine, Kalesnikoff, and Meadow Creek Cedar. In May, lumber prices hit a record high of US$1,630 for 1,000 board feet. Then they dropped by 75 per cent. They’ve since tripled in the last five months. Big players like Interfor are battening their hatches and grabbing timber licences at prices smaller operations can’t match.

On the labour front, if the moratorium goes ahead, some forestry watchdogs say as much as 44 per cent of forestry jobs could be impacted, and as many as 20 B.C. mills could close. Further, if mills can’t cut big trees on Crown land, some may turn to those on private land.

This is a political play if there ever was one. But there’s method to the madness. With First Nations holding the yay or nay card in many ways, the Horgan Government’s move to halt the hacking of ancient forests is going to force individual forest companies and contractors to get to the table with their First Nation’s partners and stakeholders. That’s the new now.

P — Public office. Mayor, council, regional district directors, MLAs, MPs. All of them should be commended for giving their time and expertise. Never has there been a more caustic and cynical era in which to hold public office. The online world of anonymity combined with the evils of algorithmic whirlpools that tell us the same thing over and over, true or not, has made it closer to impossible for elected officials to do their jobs. Mike Tyson said it best: “Social media made you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”

Q — Quantity v. Quality. Back in the ‘90s, the Nelson Daily News and its sister paper, The Weekender, published a three-part series entitled The Last Resort? The feature looked at what Nelson’s inevitable future would be once the world found this place, using trends noted in a sweeping study by western American academics that tracked indicators like migration, real estate, development and tourism in budding resort regions like Jackson Hole, Utah’s Wasatch Range and Colorado’s Summit County.

That future is here. Urban exodus from major Canadian cities has never been higher. Maclean’s magazine reports that B.C. is the most popular province to move to. Like 1990s Aspen, Snowbird and Jackson saw, those who work in the Nelsons and Fernies of the region are being priced out of the place. As was the case down south a few decades ago, nearby ‘burgs and villages became bedroom communities for the working class and young families who worked and played in the resort towns. Increasingly owned by out-of-town folk, more secondary vacation homes became vacant much of the year, or rented. Community cohesion suffered. With City of Nelson development permits at an all-time high, Salmo, Castlegar, Balfour and new subdivisions throughout the RDCK seem destined for quickening growth.

R — Railtown. The largest developable parcel in town, tires are being kicked around Baker Street’s west end. Six-and-a-half acres is privately owned. CP Rail owns 45. The rail giant doesn’t often part with its land holdings.

Improvements continue throughout the Railtown neighbourhood. Chris Chart is renovating and adding suites to his Selkirk Vet venue, Cottonwood Park will see more beautification this year, the city is making improvements to its properties there along with previous first-rate renovations to the Maglio family’s properties, Cover Architects and the Chamber of Commerce.

S — Sick pay. Contrary to what some employers say seemed to be popular belief amongst skiing and ‘boarding staff, the province’s unexpected new illness compensation rules were not created for deep powder days deemed “sick” by shredders. Ironic indeed that Premier Horgan’s new five-day mandate went into effect just as the peaks were pounded with a metre of dry snow. The mandate is going to hit 50 per cent of B.C. businesses, just as CPP, EI, wages and overall costs through the pandemic have gone through roof.

Selkirk College. This May will mark the end of a remarkable run for the post secondary pillar. After 11 years in the captain’s chair, president Angus Graeme will step aside. Big, bold shoes to fill.

T — Those we lost. The business and cultural community bid farewell to many leaders and notables in 2021. Here’s a few of them:

Granite Pointe’s fairways will never be the same now that course characters Ted Ryan and Randy Breen have departed. Ryan was with BC Hydro for years, he and wife Carol owned the Dairy Queen for a long time too before moving into real estate. The ever-affable Breen was the veteran face of Home Hardware’s contractor desk.

Legendary museum, archives and history heroine Shawn Lamb left us, as did the King of Kootenaiana, academic extraordinaire Ron Wellwood. Departed too are Salmo tile and stone craftsman Jerome Sukra, environmental crusader and former city councillor Micheal Jessen, Midas owner and Nelson Pilots Association advocate Wade Nearing and Eddy Music owner Don Stewart, also a longtime member of the Nelson Police Board.

Alan Ramsden, former CKNL broadcaster and museum crusader, passed away at the age of 95. And earlier this month, Nelson and the nation lost a humble legend with the passing of Canadian baseball star and forestry ace Amanda Asay. To family and friends of those here, and those we missed, condolences to you all. On we go.