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

Bernie Brown campaigning to be Nelson’s mayor

Brown says affordable housing, mental health and food security are her priorities

COLUMN: A selection of local election reflections

Observations on West Kootenay/Boundary election races following Friday’s close of nominations

Cougar sightings increase in Nelson area

WildSafe BC’s Dave White offers advice on avoiding confrontations

UPDATED: Trafalgar student hit by car while walking to school

Nelson Police say charges are being considered

Expedia: Nelson is historic and hoppin’

The travel website put Nelson on two best-of lists for its history and beer

VIDEO: Lydia Kania is here to skunk you

The Vallican track athlete has turned to cribbage in her senior years

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read