Forests minister Steve Thomson met with local sawmills in Fruitvale last month. One person who was present described the meeting as positive

Hands are tied, forests minister tells Kootenay mills

An industry professional says BC’s forests minister understands their plight but made no promises at a meeting last month.

An industry professional who attended a meeting last month between local sawmills and BC’s forests minister in Fruitvale says Steve Thomson understood their message, but made no promises.

“I thought it was a very positive meeting,” says Bill Kestell, woodlands manager with Salmo’s Porcupine Lumber. “He was very down to earth and easy to talk to and made some good points. I’ve heard others felt the same way.”

Kestell attended along with representatives of other local members of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association, who are seeking to have constraints on their access to timber lifted.

Kestell says Thomson appreciated their concerns but couldn’t offer any easy answers: “He doesn’t have the authority to get rid of the constraints. He said a lot of them are in legislation, and that’s not easy to change. So it’s up to all of us to put our heads together.”

A ministry spokesman confirmed in an email: “While a full re-opening of the Kootenay-Boundary higher level plan is unlikely, Minister Thomson has asked staff to look at options to address timber supply constraints and opportunities.”

Kestell was encouraged by the backing of local politicians at the meeting. “Their support meant an awful lot to industry members,” he said. “It’s half the battle.”

The lumber manufacturers approached the Regional District of Central Kootenay in July about setting up a meeting with the minister, but in the meantime scheduled one themselves and invited certain local politicians — who have since been criticized by others who fear broader community interests weren’t represented.

The meeting with the minister lasted about an hour and a half.

The industry group says its livelihood is at risk without easier access to wood and land-base constraints forces them into domestic watersheds. Some critics, however, scoff at their request and suggest it would threaten protected areas.

Thomson’s low key visit to the area in mid-August included stops in Grand Forks, Castlegar, Fruitvale, and Salmo and the operations of Zellstoff Celgar, Kalesnikoff Lumber, Atco, and Porcupine.

Kalesnikoff and Atco didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Just Posted

Maglio Building Centre sold to RONA

The stores in Nelson and Trail will remain open

Nelson singing teacher leads Bigby Place in song

“It was a lovely afternoon with them,” says Kathleen Neudorf

NELSON BUSINESS BUZZ: Baby, you’ve come a long way

Judy Banfield has sold Mountain Baby, and other business news from Bob Hall

The Hillties throwing launch party for new single

The Nelson band will debut “Moving On” on March 2

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read