Members of the Northwest British Columbia Forest Coalition are bringing their message to international markets and investors during the Olympic Winter Games, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced today.
"We're using the Games to showcase British Columbia as the world's largest exporter of softwood forest products and reliable supplier of high-quality products," said Bell. "As part of our business hosting strategy, we're taking the opportunity to promote investment and job-creation throughout the province, including the tremendous fibre resource in the northwest."
The Northwest BC Forest Coalition was formed in March 2009. The coalition brings together 11 forest licensees from Smithers to Prince Rupert, representing a potential timber supply of 2.7 million cubic metres per year, in a co-ordinated effort to attract manufacturing capacity and make better use of the underutilized fibre.
"Instead of continuing to compete against each other in a very limited market, we decided, with urging from Minister Bell, to pool our timber volumes to entice new investors," said Elmer Derrick of Gitxsan Forest Enterprises Inc., and spokesperson for the coalition.
Working together, the forest licensees are able to create a more attractive investment opportunity by offering a larger, stable supply of hemlock, balsalm, cedar and spruce sawlogs and pulp logs.
The Northwest also offers unique advantages to Asian investors, since it is serviced by three year-round ice-free ports in Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Stewart. Prince Rupert is 702 kilometres (436 miles) closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and 1,609 kilometres (1,000 miles) closer than Los Angeles, saving at least 1 1/2 days in shipping time. Since CN Rail also services the area, fibre can easily be shipped to any point in eastern Canada or in the southern or eastern United States.
For those wishing to build new manufacturing plants to take advantage of the abundant fibre, there is an ample supply of electricity, suitable for industrial sites, with highly competitive usage rates offered by BC Hydro, the third-largest electricity supplier in Canada.
In January 2010, the Northwest BC Forest Coalition launched its website which provides more information about the coalition and the northwest's forestry investment opportunities.
The coalition is online at www.nwbc-forestcoalition.org