Opinion: All BC communities are forestry communities
Regional supply chain study emphasizes the importance of forestry in B.C.
May 10, 2021 By Susan Yurkovich
What does a forester in Prince George, a drone maker in Vancouver and an environmental consultant in Victoria all have in common?
They all live and work in a forestry community.
The answer might surprise many people. However, B.C.’s forest industry’s deep roots are supporting people and families in communities in every region of the province.
If you call Quesnel or Campbell River home, your dad, your sister or your neighbour might be one of many British Columbians directly employed in a forestry job. They could be working in the forest or in a sawmill making products that we all rely on every day.
However, if you live in Vancouver, Surrey or Richmond, you may know someone who depends on the forest industry, too.
That’s because close to 9,900 B.C.-based companies – small, medium and large – across the province are in the business of supplying goods and services to the forest industry. And according to a study commissioned by the BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI), the value of those goods and services totaled $7 billion in 2019.
The study – Deep Roots. Strong Communities. 2019 Regional Supply Chain Study – looked at the supply chain spend and reach of COFI member companies, which represent the majority of lumber, pulp and paper, and manufactured wood producers in B.C.
In all, more than 340 communities and 120 Indigenous Nations and organizations are part of our industry’s supply chain.
That includes urban centres. The study found that the industry purchased $2 billion worth of goods and services from 2,100 businesses located across 19 municipalities in Metro Vancouver. More than half of it was in the City of Vancouver alone.
On Vancouver Island, the spend was valued at $1.2 billion, purchased from 1,600 suppliers, with more than a quarter of them located in Nanaimo.
In the North, Prince George is home to 970 forestry suppliers that supplied $718 million in goods and services last year.
And more than 550 businesses from Kelowna and Kamloops in the Interior provided a combined $220 million in the forestry supply chain spend.
Importantly, forestry is also a primary industry in many Indigenous communities. Business agreements and stewardship partnerships with Indigenous Nations provided about $250 million in economic benefits to Indigenous communities, with close to 120 Indigenous Nations or affiliated businesses participating in B.C.’s forest industry
So, what kind of goods and services did these companies supply?
Suppliers range from manufacturers designing, producing and servicing parts for the equipment used in forestry operations to urban-based tech companies developing digital solutions to improve harvesting, tree planting and regeneration processes, to administration, janitorial and catering services, to name just a few.
If every one of these companies employs five, 10 or 100 people, that’s a lot of British Columbians who also count on the forest industry each day to support their families, pay their bills and enjoy a great quality of life.
B.C.’s forest industry remains a cornerstone of the economy and as the province continues its recovery from the pandemic, it is poised to get more people back to work. The industry is responsible for over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributes nearly $13 billion to the provincial GDP and generates close to $4 billion in annual revenues to municipal, provincial and federal governments to help fund important public services like health care and education.
Our industry faces many challenges including rising costs, access to fibre, trade volatility and strong global competition. But, working together, government, communities, workers and industry can address these challenges and ensure our deep roots continue to be the foundation for strong communities, sustainable growth and shared prosperity for decades to come.
To find out more about how your community is also a forestry community, read the study at cofi.org.
Susan Yurkovich is the president and CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI).
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