Looking back on 75 years of the Truck Loggers Association
By David Elstone
Dec. 4, 2017 - Next year, the Truck Loggers Association is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Formed in 1943, the TLA was created to give independent timber harvesting contractors a collective voice in the changes taking place in society and the forest industry. Guiding the TLA over its 75 years has been the fundamental belief that a strong and sustainable working forest will generate long-term prosperity for the people of B.C., and that the people who work in our forests should share in this prosperity.
By David Elstone
Today, we represent independent timber harvesting contractors, independent sawmills, small tenure holders, industry suppliers and forestry dependent communities across B.C. Our focus is making sure the voice of independent timber harvesting contractors is heard and acted upon because the remainder of our membership has a vested interest, one way or another, in contractors’ success.
Significant anniversaries like this one encourage reflection. In response, we’re writing a book that looks back over our 75-year history. Using our past presidents as the structure, we look at each president’s personal story as well as what happened in the forest industry during their term. The book is in production now and will be available at the TLA convention in January.
While history is important, organizations also need to change with the times to stay relevant. Building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with First Nations is part of our mission statement and I’m proud to say we were probably the first natural resource association in B.C. to publish a response to the Tsilhqot’in Decision. In our position statement we said, “The TLA encourages the provincial government to move expeditiously to facilitate shared sustainable resource use that builds on this Decision.” We stand by that statement today. To read the full document, visit www.tla.ca/tsilhqotin.
We have also welcomed communities as new TLA members. Eight communities have joined the TLA over the last three years because they recognize the value forestry brings to their communities. It’s my hope that Campbell River, Port Alberni, Powell River, Gibsons, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Sayward and Tahsis are just the beginning of this new kind of member. TLA members are the economic backbone of B.C.’s rural communities and we value the positive relationship we are building with these towns and cities.
We’re also looking at change at the TLA’s 75th Annual Trade Show & Convention coming up in January. From an on-the-ground perspective, our session “Managing the Transition” will discuss moving from old growth to second growth forests. It is easy to say “make the transition,” but that does not take into consideration what we actually harvest, how we harvest and the existing infrastructure for converting timber into forest products.
We will also look at where we are within the evolution of steep slope technology, what drones can bring to the table for logging contractors and the new technology built into today’s engines. Technology is always changing and these kinds of capital investments are weighty decisions for an independent timber harvesting contractor.
While we’re addressing change at the convention, we’re also taking time to remember our history. We’ll take a look back at the TLA’s last 75 years and touch on the highlights of our advocacy work. The TLA boards have always punched above their weight and got things done in the face of opposition from the powers that be. Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace and passionate advocate for forest conservation and the use of wood, will provide another perspective as he shares his unique experience of being a part-owner of one of the oldest stump-to-dump logging contractors in British Columbia, W.D. Moore Logging.
Ultimately, the TLA wants to continue being a strong and unifying voice for British Columbia’s forest community today and in the future. The TLA has been around for 75 years and I fully expect it to still be here fighting for the rights of independent timber harvesting contractors 75 years from now. I hope to see many of you at the TLA’s 75th Annual Trade Show & Convention on Jan. 17-19 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel & Victoria Conference Centre as we celebrate this milestone.