TLA: Budget 2016 supports rural forestry communities
By Truck Loggers Association
February 18, 2016 – The Truck Loggers Association (TLA) applauds the 2016 Budget released on Feb. 16.
“It focuses on supporting B.C.’s rural communities where our forest industry continues to create jobs and support communities,” said David Elstone, TLA’s executive director.
The potential impacts of wildfire were addressed on two fronts. A new organization, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, will be established with $85 million of government funds. The society’s focus will be wildfire prevention and mitigation through forest fuel management, reforestation and habitat restoration. Another $10 million will be invested in the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative for community wildfire protection plans, fire smart planning activities and fuel management projects.
“These programs will support the forest industry’s efforts to work with communities to reduce the risk of wildfire in their areas,” said Elstone.
Supporting B.C.’s rural towns and villages, the Rural Dividend Program will bring $75 million ($25 million a year, over three years) to communities with populations under 25,000. The intent is to focus on communities in transition and help them stabilize their population and attract new residents.
“Logging contractors are the economic backbone of B.C.’s rural communities and the TLA welcomes building the populations in those areas so our members can continue to build their workforces,” said Elstone.
Finally, the government is investing $5 million to build markets for B.C.’s forest products in India. As Minister Steve Thomson, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, has commented before, B.C.’s rural communities did not bear the full brunt of the financial downturn in 2008-09 because of the market government and industry had built and nurtured in Asia, particularly China.
“Further diversification will ensure the forest industry has an even broader market base as world forest product markets inevitably fluctuate,” said Elstone.
The TLA (Truck Loggers Association) represents over 450 independent forest contractors and their suppliers operating on the coast of British Columbia. Our membership supports thousands of workers and, along with other independent contractors, accounts for close to 90% of the trees harvested on the coast. The TLA promotes a thriving, sustainable coastal forest industry in BC.