REPORTING · 8th July 2011
Premier Christy Clark and Pat Bell, the Minister of Innovation and job creation, were in Terrace on July 7th for a public Town Hall meeting at the sports-plex. The Banquet Hall was packed with people eager and ready to ask questions.
“This town hall is part of my commitment to open government and I’ve been doing town halls all across the province,” said Clark. “The idea is not just to tell you what we’re thinking or what I’m thinking or what Pat’s thinking, it’s about hearing from you what you would like us to do.”
She stated families were the most important thing in a person’s life, whether the family was youth, parents, grand children, grand parents, choice or however you define your family. Families raise children and pass on character and value, not government. Families are more effective when they work and have jobs and the value of families, and the value of jobs, are linked.
“And we also create a lot of revenue for government, for healthcare and education and all those things that really matter to us. Job creation is the absolute number one priority for government,” said Clark.
The first question pointed out the forest industry had become an export market and the industry had collapsed under the Liberal government due to appurtenance clauses. The questioner wanted to know how to prevent this new industry from failing.
Clark replied the Northwest would most likely be the back of forestry in the province with expansion of the exports of logs to China and the LNG pipeline. The exports to China are 1/3 of the exports in the province which is good because the US Economy has tanked, she stated.
She wanted to find more customers for BC wood as supply would meet with demand, the price will go up on BC Wood and it will be easier for BC Forestry companies to get a foothold in the markets creating jobs. She stated there were mining and energy opportunities opening up in the Northwest.
“This is a diverse economy in the Northwest,” said Clark. “A large part of it is just from the construction jobs that are associated with the projects that are coming online now are going to be in the thousands and thousands of jobs and I pretty much hope those jobs will be filled by the people who live and work already in the Northwest of British Columbia.”
Bell talked about his lumber coalition and how it was starting to reopen mills claiming it was the start of an economic boom the likes of which has not been seen since the 1960s. He listed the projects: the Northwest transmission line, Port of Prince Rupert, Kitimat LNG and mining opportunities such as the Red Chris Mine, which is ready to go.
The next question asked was about education and special needs children and how this area has more special needs children not being met by the educational facilities due to cut backs.
Clark said they were already reviewing the funding formula that the school district is recognising the children with special needs. She claimed the kids are categorized and money is attached to them based on their category. She continued with stating a basket of money is given to the school district and it up to them to determine how that money is spent. She added that it has been a decade since the funding formula was changed. Clark neglected to mention she was in charge of the funding formula at that time.
Gerald Amos from Kitamaat Village stated he grew up in Kitimat. “A lot of times, when our people express concerns about projects that we have concerns about, are still being accused of being opposed to development and nothing can be further from the truth, our people in Kitimat, and more generally, on the coast, as far as I’m concerned, made the forestry industry what it once was and the fishing industry what it was on the coast,” said Amos.
He pointed out Kitamaat village once produced 25% of the red cedar logs. They are not opposed to development but there are times when there are concerns about development. He stated he is concerned the coast will not survive an oil spill as the First Nations rely on the oceans and rivers and informed Clark that the Coastal First Nations have instituted a tanker ban. He asked if they are ready to honour and support that.
Clark agreed with the opportunities for Kitimat such as the thousands of jobs that will be involved in the Rio Tinto Alcan Smelter. She was going to visit the Smelter later that day. She said he was right to be concerned about Enbridge as there were legitimate concerns all across the province. She reminded him there was an environmental review panel collecting facts.
Councillor Randy Halyk, the only City Councillor from Kitimat who was present, wished her well and offered an invitation for her to meet with Kitimat City Council. He said there was some uncertainty on the Alcan Aluminum Smelter in town as it has been a long time coming and has stopped and started for decades. He also asked them to ask Alcan to allow small, new industries to use the Eurocan Wharf.
Clark promised to bring up his concerns. Bell said he spoke with Paul Henning about the wharf and Alcan will only need the wharf for a couple of years.
The next question concerned cabins at Lakelse Lake and how they were accessed by an abandoned logging road which recently was taken back. Clark said she did not have any idea what this was about but stated accessing the wilderness was a priority as the wilderness was the provinces greatest asset.
Bell said the Government has already gotten involved in this problem. He added people are coming to the province for skiing in the winter. In the summer, it is not clear what they are coming for but the data indicates they are coming here for the wilderness.
One woman wanted a card as legal proof she has a disability. Clark promised to look into it.
School Trustee and Chairman Berry Pankhurst pointed out the Funding Formula was done out of Victoria and the people who put it together do not live up here. He said they do not get enough money to cover special needs. He asked her to call a rural school conference to talk about issues such as aboriginal graduation and special needs. He wanted the students in the area to have the same advantages as in Vancouver.
Clark said education would assist in economic growth and changes needed to be made to the funding formula. Clark pointed out the Vancouver School District has 9000 empty spaces and was running a massive deficit. All places have different issues. She suggested more First Nations education from Kindergarten up.
Another speaker spoke about the resources and how they should belong to Terrace, questioning how a tree farm license could wind up in the hands of an off shore investor. He pointed out a majority of the trees being harvested were being shipped and the remainder was being destroyed, citing the clearing at the airport. He referred to the promises of bio fuel and bio coal.
Clark replied there were a lot of bio fuel projects starting up. The plan is not to export raw logs to China but to open the market for processed wood claiming the fastest growing middle class and urbanization is in China and India. They are building cities monthly and BC wants these to be built with our wood.
Bell said BC is now the largest producer of pellets. It is not happening as quickly as they want it to happen. They do not want to end raw log exports because a job in the mill is worth two in the bush and they do not want to put the people in the bush out of business. They are working to reopen mills but have to be careful when dealing with a big country because they would shut down 19 to 20 sawmills if BC was only going to produce lumber to be used internally. BC is an export based economy and we are living in a big world through partnerships. The work he claimed to have done in China meant 20 sawmills are operating which would not be operating otherwise.
One person asked about BC having the highest child poverty rate in BC and wanted to know what the government was going to do claiming most of the people involved in the government were the ones who were hurting the most vulnerable people in the province.
Clark replied the child poverty rate was way too high though she claimed it has been steadily declining since 2001 acknowledging BC is still the worst province in Canada. She said there was a lot of work to do. It was the creation of jobs over the last decade and improvement to the BC economy over the last decade which has contributed to this believing jobs and education would help fix the problem. She added homelessness in Vancouver had halved.
The final question was in regards to the raising cost of the ferry from Prince Rupert. Clark stated Blair Lekstrom was working on this as he was looking at affordability for families including Ferry, BC Hydro and ICBC Rates.
Kitimat Councillor Randy Haylk poses a question to Premier Christy Clark
Uh...isn't this a world of "choice"???
Comment by MaggieJo on 9th July 2011
Women can CHOOSE to abort babies in the womb...while the Gov't sits back to abide by that personal choice.
Families CHOOSE to homeschool...while the Gov't sits back to abide by that personal choice.
Familes CHOOSE to put kids in private school...while the Gov't sits back to abide by that personal choice.
Partners CHOOSE to marry in same-sex marriages...while the Gov't sits back to abide by that personal choice.
So, what's the big deal when someone CHOOSES to personally host a disability card???
We created this "CHOICE" lifestyle. What's da big deal with this personal choice of hosting a Disability Card?
Where did the Gov't go wrong with 'DIS particular personal choice??? 'Totally not getting it here.
Disability card not needed
Comment by C. Arnold on 8th July 2011
I agree that a disability id card is not a good idea at all... It will surely lead to labeling and discriminatory practice for those with or without the card. The costs and red tape involved in applying and monitoring it are just not justified.
in response to "where have all the jobs gone?"
Comment by Mike on 8th July 2011
I was formerly employed at Eurocan Pulp & Paper for seven years until they shut the doors on us. The only explanation they gave was "not feasible" and "no fibre supply". Now while I understand the economics of chipping whole logs to make pulp or paper vs. having chip supply coming from a sawmill, this was definitely a load of BS. Hank and the boys closed down their own sawmill in Terrace, the nearest fibre supply to Eurocan and then decided to close Eurocan. All that happened was more logs were exported to the US and overseas. You can't tell me there was no demand for lumber. Yes I realize the recession hurt "new home starts" and construction etc...but that didn't stop logs from being exported and stockpiled for when things turned around and rather than the mills here starting back up, mills in the US and China were starting up so supply the demand of lumber with a glut of BC logs. Insteresting how before the market collapse, West Fraser purchased 13 shuttered US sawmills, the same sawmills which are rumoured to be seeing the 88 million dollars of Black Liquor Subsidy money earned by West Fraser's Canadian mills. How the government can allow such things is absolutely dumbfounding. It's as bad, if not worse, than removing the appurtenance clause from the TFLs. Canada shouldn't be the world's grocery store where they come for their raw materials and then cook up their own finished products. If the world needs fuel, then we should be refining the oil here in Canada before it's shipped out of Alberta. If the world needs building supplies then BC should be supplying dimensional lumber, not the logs so other countries can reap the rewards. It just absolutely sickens me how our own government (who in case you forgot, because they certainly did, works for IT'S CITIZENS!!), can just sell our country down the river for next to nothing and then we as Canadian consumers pay the premium on those finished products when they are IMPORTED back into Canada......sickening. It's time for the people to take control, it's time for the government to start listening to it's voters, to start representing it's voters. We live in a DEMOCRACY, not a DICTATORSHIP. ANYWAYS.....obviously you can tell I get a bit tweaked by this crap, but to answer the other poster's question....the jobs have gone to China and the US. Simple as that.
Where have all the jobs gone?
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 8th July 2011
I don't know where all the forestry jobs have gone, BUT...I can tell you where 900 of them went:
In 1973, I landed a dream, union job at Weldwood of Canada. It was a dynamic plywood mill at the foot of Fraser St. (Vancouver) that operated at least three shifts, five days a week. We worked our asses off from the moment the whistle blew. We, in the "press department" tended to be young people because the work was hard and fast. One also had to be ambidextrous. It was like the league of nations. Nobody cared what colour you were, nor about your sexuality (or lack of it). To be honest, everybody partied hearty....except for the A.A. members. Had nice homes, and, at least one vehicle.
Trouble was....we worked ourselves right out of stock ........and right out of jobs.
The manufacture of plywood requires the use of BIG TREES.
No big trees = 900 fewer jobs at Weldwood of Canada (at Fraser and Kent, Vancouver).
I was laid off in 1981, due to a shortage of big trees.
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 8th July 2011
BC Coallition for People with Disabilities has spoken out against such a label attachment for years.
It is not fully support. Though I respect and understand her position of it being voluntary, it's the stigmas that get attached that have a larger concern.
She would like it to be a voluntary program, the problem is when such a program is put in place, and service providers etc... know it exists it will become, eventually mandatory as your way of proving it.
Not everybody wants that stigma attached to them. When it becomes mandatory to prove it with something as public as a DL people lose their right to their privacy of medical information if they want to use their benefits but not be labelled.
This is highly prevelant in the mental health area.
There are definitely pros to this type of identification for the user, but there are also downfalls. Would this marking appear on a drivers abstract and be used to quietly and discreetly deny employment?
Will it affect insurance claims? Will it be available to anyone who obtains your drivers license information? etc...
Need for disability card
Comment by c. sandecki on 8th July 2011
"One woman wanted a card as legal proof she has a disability. Clark promised to look into it. "
And there it will end, as usual.
It's sad and infuriating to see this woman's request for a disability card apparently dismissed by Christy Clark.
People with brain injuries, Tourette's, balance problems ... can be mistaken by police and bus drivers as intoxicated when in fact they are stone cold sober but unable to speak clearly or walk a straight line because of a condition which limits their neuromuscular mastery. A teen in Newfoundland spent 24 hours in jail without his family knowing where he was, after police picked him up as drunk while he was on his way to rent a movie.
Though many people from Terrace city council to MLAs have said they support such a card, no one has stepped forward to clear the way for the card's issuance.
This woman has worked tirelessly for ten years or more in her quest to establish this card for the betterment of all, with a singular lack of success.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 8th July 2011
Just google a few phrases concerning wood cut and jobs and you can come up with a recent article by Ben Parfitt. Here are a few excerpts.
"Ten years ago, B.C.’s forest industry employed 99,000 men and women, nearly half of whom worked in mills making solid wood products, which is where we get the biggest bang for the buck not only from an employment perspective but a climate perspective as well (remember, all solid wood products continue to store carbon for decades and potentially generations to come). A decade later, and we’re down to 52,000 industry jobs – a whopping 47% percent decline. If this is exciting, I’d hate to see what depressing looks like.
Bell, of course, doesn’t stray anywhere near such uncomfortable truths. Instead, he stays focused on his short, scripted video message which, among other things, touts the great job potential associated with churning out more wood pellets in B.C. – pellets that are shipped half way around the world to heat homes and businesses in Europe, and which European countries subsequently claim carbon credit for on the shaky ground that the pellets are “carbon neutral” and displace the burning of dirty coal or other non-renewable fossil fuels. Or Bell alludes to burning more of our forest resources to fire new electrical plants as part of BC Hydro’s “Phase 2″ call for new electricity from so-called “bioenergy” sources.
If the Forests Minister seriously thinks that this represents a potentially significant source of new jobs in the province he ought to give his head a shake. While a new wood pellet plant slated for Burns Lake will create 20 new badly needed full-time jobs, the jobs created will require staggering amounts of wood to be sustained. For each job in the pellet plant approximately 13,250 standard telephone pole’s worth of wood will have to be found. This compares to one job for every 1,000 cubic metres of wood, which more or less has been B.C.’s average over the past couple of decades. An average, by the way, that is far from the envy of the world, with many other countries having consistently outperformed B.C. by generating far more jobs with far less wood."
"From a sustainable management perspective, accelerating wood pellet production is not the answer to our problems. It creates relatively few jobs while producing a product that is immediately burned, releasing greenhouse gases into the Earth’s overheating atmosphere."
"Bell goes nowhere near this, perhaps because to do so would be to confront those ugly job loss figures earlier noted."
Does Pat Bell realize how stupid he sounds...?
Comment by Mike on 8th July 2011
"Bell said BC is now the largest producer of pellets. It is not happening as quickly as they want it to happen. They do not want to end raw log exports because a job in the mill is worth two in the bush and they do not want to put the people in the bush out of business. "
I don't think Pat Bell understand this expression at all. Maybe I'm missing something but I thought that expression meant for every mill worker, there were two guys in the bush cutting trees to supply the mill. I'd love to hear how opening mills to cut the logs being cut would end up putting the loggers out of work. If you open more mills, that employs more people, and it mean those loggers keep logging. Pat Bell has manipulated that expression and if he thinks that noone else realizes it, he's sadly mistaken. Why aren't we sawing the boards for all those cities being built in China and India monthly? Why don't we have secondary business after the logs are cut to build pre-fab housing units to be exported? Pat Bell went to China and got the building code changed so they take more wood so they can now build 6 storey dwellings rather than an old max of 4 storeys, but why are we selling China raw logs, letting them saw them and built the units themselves when we could do it and be shipping a FINISHED PRODUCT for what I would assume would be a similar cost as shipping the RAW LOGS? Why aren't we getting all the value-added jobs of refining all of our raw materials (trees, oil, minerals) before we export? Why can't the government see any of this? Why do people protest and put up road blocks and tanker bans, but noone is putting their foot down on this topic? Is it because a lot of the TFLs in the area are now owned by First Nations groups and they're happy now since they are the ones reaping the rewards of these exports? If there's anyone else that agrees with my position, please comment. And if I'm somehow missing the boat here, please let me know.