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

Nelson bumps up cost of east Blewett fire service

The 20 per cent increase will amount to approximately $56.00 per year for a $400,000 home.

Dryer incident at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Judgment reserved in Nakusp school sex trial

Trial concluded today with lawyer’s summations

New Denver emergency ward to remain 24/7

Interior Health says it’s postponing changes to operating hours.

Genelle ‘vehicle incident’ under RCMP investigation

Regional firefighters respond to car fire Sunday night

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Nelson Leafs lose to Nitehawks on last-minute goal

The game was played to finish a postponed contest in December

CBT to provide 100 new child care spaces

Nelson Waldorf School is also getting money for a roof

Leafs down Border Bruins in penalty-filled game

Logan Wullum stole the show for Nelson in the 4-1 win

SKI TIPS: The key to skiing in heavy powder

Whitewater Ski Team coach Dylan Henderson shows how to navigate powder with ease

Leafs’ five-game winning streak snapped by Nitehawks

Nelson fell 4-1 on the first of three straight games this weekend

The book club master

Nelson’s Hazel Mousley takes book clubs to the next level

Glacier freezes competition in Spokane

The gymnastics club returned home with 35 medals

Remembering the man who carved Nelson’s iconic welcome signs

Art Waldie did the majority of the work on the signs in the 1970s

Most Read