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Coronavirus risk prompts COFI to cancel 2020 convention


March 12, 2020
By Maria Church
Maria Church
COFI president and CEO Susan Yurkovich gives her opening remarks at COFI 2019 in Vancouver.

Western Canada’s largest forest industry gathering has been cancelled over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) announced yesterday evening its decision to cancel the 2020 Convention in Prince George, B.C.

“We are naturally disappointed because we always look forward to connecting with our industry colleagues, communities and partners,” Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO of COFI, said in a news release announcing the cancellation. “However, given the circumstances, including the World Health Organization today declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, cancelling the convention is the prudent decision to avoid putting the health and safety of delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and staff at unnecessary risk.”

Hundreds of forest industry stakeholders from across North America, as well as international representatives, were expected to attend the 2020 convention April 1 to 3.

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Earlier this year, Yurkovich told CFI the convention will be an opportunity to discuss a path forward for B.C.’s forestry sector after the difficulties faced by the industry in 2019.

“Smart choices made now can secure a bright future for our industry, and we can’t do it alone. Industry, government, workers, contractors, unions, communities, First Nations, must work collaboratively to pave the way,” she said.

In the cancellation announcement, Yurkovich acknowledged the support from partners and exhibitors.

“We recognize that all of our community partners put a lot of effort into preparing for the convention, as have our sponsors, presenters and exhibitors, and we value their continued support. We look forward to welcoming everyone to next year’s convention in Vancouver from April 7 to 9, and again in Prince George in 2022,” she said.