Building public support in B.C. communities
April 8, 2016 - What can companies do to improve public support in the communities they operate in? That was the question of the day for the mayors that spoke at the Community Leaders Panel Discussion at the COFI 2016 Convention, moderated by Nick Arkle, Chief Forester of Gorman Bros. Lumber.
The mayors that participated in the panel included Mayor of Prince George Lyn Hall, Mayor of Williams Lake Walt Cobb, Mayor of West Kelowna Doug Findlater and Mayor of Cranbrook Lee Pratt.
One sentiment echoed by the mayors was the active role that industry needs to take to help educate the public.
“It’s about letting the community know how important the forest industry is to communities all over the province,” Hall said. “I think it’s a story untold in many respects.”
In Prince George alone, Hall said that the mills and pellet plants in the city directly employ about 3,000 residents.
Some communities, like the City of Cranbrook, also benefit from a great deal of indirect employment from businesses such as equipment dealers and service centres, but the residents in these areas don’t always realize how much of the employment is fuelled by the forestry sector.
“Because it’s not visible they don’t see the importance of the industry to the community,” Pratt said.
Another way to improve public support is ensure that proper consultation is performed by industry with the public.
“We really need to define what consultation means,” said Cobb, who added that consultation with the public should be done while trying not to hinder active operations.