Meet the Mayor
February 5, 2014
Last week I had the pleasure and the opportunity to attend the Premier’s Resource Forum in Prince George. No, I didn’t get to spend a lot of quality time with the Premier but I did take a moment to pass on your greetings and best wishes for prosperity in the time remaining in her term and hand deliver a personal invitation to attend the Coal Forum in Chetwynd next October.
It is more than a truism that BC’s prosperity is the prosperity of our home town and we know that our Provincial Government is working hard to ensure that BC prospers.
The Resource Forum brought an opportunity to re-establish contact with some of the Ministers and other personalities who possess enormous power to affect the way we live. Our good friend in high places, Blair Lekstrom, now in private business, attended and was a huge asset to Chetwynd even in his new, private role.
Of the topics covered, forestry, mining, rail transportation, Ridley Island, and wood pellets are of greatest interest to Chetwynd. I tried to record a few details to pass on to you. So, here you are: BC exports almost as much softwood as does Russia. Know how big is Russia? I’d have to look it up, too. But Russia is a lot bigger than BC – with a lot more trees in its turf. In spite of mining, natural gas, oil, and agriculture, at 17% to 19%, forest products still make up the largest portion of BC exports. And Chetwynd contributes a significant portion of that massive export volume. Way to go, Chetwynd!
Here’s another point that should bring a measure of comfort to your souls while you entertain appropriate feelings of concern for your friends west of the rocks: the fiber supply available to Chetwynd mills is larger than that of any other community in the beetle-ravaged areas of British Columbia. Our fiber supply is sustainable.
While the US market is recovering and exports to the US constitute 50% of all BC timber exports, and while the Canadian $ is depreciating in relation to the US $, don’t forget that the Softwood Lumber Agreement expires in 2015. We could encounter a few bumps in the road ahead. That said, the Asian market is growing and may help to offset volatility in the US market.
That’s why we have senior governments and astute business leaders. We’ll live through the volatility.
One of our home-town lumber producers, Chetwynd Forest Industries, is a member of West Frazer, the largest lumber producer in North America. West Frazer is deeply involved in developing of new and innovative ways to use lumber that will help to stabilize the market. Among these innovative uses of lumber is the construction of 5-10 storey buildings out of wood. This would create a new market for up to 4 billion board feet of lumber. (Each truck going out of Chetwynd is carrying about 40,000 board feet of lumber.) Count the trucks.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor