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B.C. to dedicate some provincial timber supply to value-added industry – Prince George Citizen

DELTA, B.C. — The British Columbia government is launching a new program that will ensure dedicated access to the provincial timber supply for secondary manufacturers that make value-added products. 
Forests Minister Bruce Ralston says the goal is to build a stronger, more resilient forest industry with value-added products such as mass timber, plywood, veneer, panelling and flooring.
The government says in a statement that those products are increasingly in demand as alternatives to carbon-intensive construction products such as cement, resulting in steady job growth in the province. 
The statement says the program will be restricted to those facilities that have minimal or no forestry tenure and are approved as a value-added manufacturer. 
Figures show overall harvest levels in the forest industry in B.C. have decreased in the past decade, but employment in the value-added sector has grown by about 35 per cent since 2012. 
Paul Rasmussen, with the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, says they’re encouraged to see the government recognize that a dedicated fibre allocation for the value-added sector is required.  
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2023. 

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Sinclar announces temporary curtailment of several northwest B.C. … – The Northern View

More forestry operators have announced mill closures in northwest B.C. due to lack of fibre supply and negative market conditions.
Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd. announced it is curtailing its lumber operations at Apollo Forest Products in Fort St.
James, Lakeland Mills in Prince George, and Nechako Lumber Co. in Vanderhoof, for two weeks, effective January 30th.
“There are factors outside of our control that are having a detrimental impact on our business,” said Sinclar President
Greg Stewart in a Jan 23 news release.
“Regrettably, it is necessary to curtail our lumber operations at this time,” he said.
Weak market conditions and constraints on an economical fibre supply are having a significant negative impact across
the B.C. forest industry.
“Sinclar remains committed to the long-term sustainability of our operations, while continuing to support our
employees, local First Nations, and communities,” said Stewart.
The Premium Pellet operation will continue to run, and Lakeland will continue to provide heat to the Prince George Downtown Renewable Energy System.

Read More »

UNDRIP agreement entrenches Indigenous rights in mining – Prince George Citizen

Christy Smith was back on a familiar stage last week at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum at Prince George Civic and Convention Centre, the same setting where 13 years ago she discussed the economic impact and benefits to Indigenous communities about to happen with the opening of the Mount Milligan mine.

In 2010 when Smith first spoke at the conference, the copper/gold mine 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George had just passed its environmental review and permitting process. With construction about to begin there was much uncertainty about where First Nations fit into the process and how their rights on resource extraction would be identified and protected in legislation.

“At that time I would never believe I’d be sitting on a panel (in 2023) talking about positive legacy,” said Smith. “I wasn’t sure where the province of B.C. was headed with respect to the Indigenous relations we had.”

Six years after Mount Milligan began producing in August 2013, B.C. became the first government to sign the United Nation Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The policy and its 89-point action plan requires the B.C. government to obtain informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous Peoples and their lands.

“When I first started in my career 25 years ago I didn’t think I’d have a career for as long as I have and really it boils down to the fact that things are changing,” said Smith, the vice-president of sustainability and Indigenous relations for Falkirk Environmental Consultants.

“UNDRIP has come in and people are starting to recognize the importance of the work that we’ve been advocating for years and years. Right now we’ve got Western science views, we’ve got the  environmental assessment and now we’re starting to see the weaving of Indigenous interests into those environmental assessments and the observations Indigenous people have had for thousands of years being taken into consideration when we’re looking at a project.”

The UNDRIP agreement provides the framework for environmental assessments that formally brings First Nations governments into the process. Smith expects there will be new court challenges that delay projects but she’s encouraged the document will foster a  new spirit of cooperation.

“There’s a lot of power that been provided with UNDRIP, we finally have a voice that’s louder than just what we’ve been advocating for,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of ways we can influence a project, but if you don’t do it right you could be in a lot of trouble.”

Charles Morven, secretary-treasurer of the Nisga’a Lisims Government, says the province has enormous mineral wealth and needs to develop more projects to stimulate the economy, especially in northwestern B.C., which is known for its gold ore, silver, nickel and copper deposits.

“I know the highest density of minerals for anywhere in the world is in our nation’s lands and that’s why the Golden Triangle is so important to British Columbia,” said Morven.

In September, Morven attended the Precious Metals Summit in Colorado where he spoke with mining companies and investors who shared their concerns about the lengthy and complicated federal environmental assessment process needed to get mines approved in B.C.

“That could be a huge problem in bringing investment into British Columbia and we need to have that discussion if we want to be able to move forward and build legacies, not just for Indigenous communities but for B.C. as a whole,” said Morven.

In December, Ascot Resources secured $200 million in funding for its Premier Gold project to refurbish an existing gold/copper mine on Nisga’a land near Stewart. Having obtained its Mines Act Permit in December 2021, the company expects to be in production by the first quarter of 2024.

 Morven says the province’s Environmental Assessment Office process follows legislative guidelines but is not bound by regulations and that delays project approvals.

“When the Indigenous community wants to be the proponent it’s a really tough challenge because the legislation doesn’t support that, and we’re finding that out firsthand,” said Morven.

“We helped a mining company within our nation giving a huge investment so they can start construction. If we weren’t there with them they might not have gotten it, because we bring certainty to any development on our lands. That’s really important and we need B.C. to see what we offer. We can’t be fighting with our own government when we want to be the developers of companies on our lands.

“We just need them to hear our concerns and work with us to move these projects forward.”

Read More »

MEGABUST: Northern B.C.’s megaproject boom coming to an end – Pique Newsmagazine

First in a series

The completion of four northern B.C. megaprojects, worth a combined $88.6 billion, will mean the end of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in the region.

Construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, the LNG Canada liquified natural gas export terminal in Kitimat, the BC Hydro Site C hydroelectric dam near Fort St. John and the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project from Edmonton to Burnaby are all expected to be substantially complete over the next two years.

According to publicly-reported data, those four projects employed an average of 18,632 people in northern B.C. throughout 2022 – a labour force equal to almost seven per cent of the entire working-age population (15 and older) of the province’s three northern economic development regions: Cariboo, Northeast, and North Coast and Nechako.

“That’s a lot of jobs,” Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) CEO Joel McKay said. “These major projects have had an absolutely significant impact… not just on northern B.C., but across the province.”

The megaprojects helped the province, and especially northern B.C., weather the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKay said. The projects didn’t just create direct jobs, but have created indirect employment in a wide range of sectors including catering, hospitality, suppliers, skilled trades, engineering firms and many more.

“It’s a very broad and diverse set of contractors and suppliers that have benefited from these projects,” McKay said.

Given the complexity of the projects and their economic impact, it is hard to estimate what the multiplier effect has been in terms of indirect jobs created, he said. McKay’s northern B.C. economic development agency estimates three indirect jobs are supported for every direct job in the forestry industry, but with temporary construction projects it is harder to estimate.

The completion of megaprojects comes at an already challenging time for northern B.C.’s economy. B.C.’s forestry, pulp and paper sectors, traditional mainstays of the northern B.C economy, are on the decline.

Canfor announced the closure of the pulp line at its Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill on Jan. 11, and its Taylor Pulp Mill has been curtailed since February 2022. Paper Excellence permanently closed its pulp mill in Mackenzie in 2021. Pacific BioEnergy permanently shuttered its wood pellet plant in Prince George in March 2022.

More mill closures are expected in 2023, and many have taken temporary curtailments to reduce production.

Economic activity from the megaprojects has helped offset some of the job losses and loss of economic activity in communities that have been hard-hit by job losses in the forest sector, McKay said.

“Mackenize and Fraser Lake are examples of communities that are seeing a lot of economic activity because they have a Coastal GasLink camp near their communities,” he said.

Those communities are “looking down the barrel of significant contraction and job losses,” when Coastal GasLink is completed later this year, and thousands of workers pack up the camps and go home, he said.

Prince George, as the service and economic hub of northern B.C., can expect to feel the pinch along with the rest of the region, he said, but the impact may not be as direct and pronounced.

“Prince George has a more diverse economy than other communities in the north,” McKay said. “It will be difficult to determine in Prince George how that is going to look.”

There are mines and other projects proposed which could help “ease the hangover” after a period of record private-sector investment in northern B.C., he said.

McKay said his “number-one fear” is these major projects will be completed and the forestry sector will continue to decline, and there will be nothing to replace that activity.

The completion of the projects will create new, permanent jobs, he said, but those jobs will represent a fraction of the jobs involved in construction. For example, LNG Canada currently employs roughly 6,000 workers during construction, but once complete the liquefied natural gas terminal is expected to create 200 to 250 ongoing jobs.

There needs to be efforts at all levels to make sure northern B.C. is a competitive jurisdiction which can attract private-sector development and get it built, McKay said.

“We have to be looking to the next thing,” he said. “You can have a $100 billion in projects planned, but if none of it ever gets built it doesn’t matter. We have to get to yes.”

If northern B.C. can’t attract new sectors and new employers to fill the gap that the megaprojects and forestry is leaving, then “we can expect things to get worse and harder in northern B.C.,” he said.

MEET THE MEGAPROJECTS

COASTAL GASLINK

TC Energy’s $11.2 billion, 670-km-long Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline was 81.2 per cent complete in December, and on schedule to be completed by the end of this year. Between January and November 2022, the project employed an average of 4,777 workers in northern B.C., reaching a peak of 6,389 workers during September. TC Energy has not yet reported worker numbers for December 2022.

TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE EXPANSION

The $21.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project to nearly triple the capacity of the 1,150-km oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby is also slated for completion later this year. The North Thompson section of the project, running from near Mount Robson to Blue River, employed an average of 2,901 workers in northern B.C.  – outnumbering local residents in the village of Valemount – from January to September 2022. Roughly 30 per cent of workers in the North Thompson section lived in the region. Trans Mountain has not yet reported its employment figures for the final quarter of 2022.

SITE C DAM

Further north, construction of BC Hydro’s $16 billion, 1,100 megawatt Site C dam was 70 per cent complete as of Sept. 30, and on target to be operational by 2025. Work on the dam employed an average of 4,954 people from January to November 2022 – including an average of 989 local residents of the Peace River Regional District and a further 2,386 British Columbians from other parts of the province. BC Hydro has not yet reported worker numbers for December of 2022.

LNG CANADA TERMINAL

In Kitimat, work on LNG Canada’s $40 billion liquified natural gas export terminal is 80 per cent complete and on track to be complete “by mid-decade,” LNG Canada CEO Jason Klein said during a presentation at the BC Natural Resource Forum on Jan. 18. Roughly 6,000 workers were on-site on the project, Klein said, and the company has projected up to 7,500 will be needed during peak construction.

“We will prove that Canada can deliver megaprojects and I hope on the back of that, that allows the  next wave of projects, most of which are Indigenous-led, to follow behind us,” Klein said.

Read More »

B.C. to dedicate some provincial timber supply to value-added industry – Prince George Citizen

DELTA, B.C. — The British Columbia government is launching a new program that will ensure dedicated access to the provincial timber supply for secondary manufacturers that make value-added products. 
Forests Minister Bruce Ralston says the goal is to build a stronger, more resilient forest industry with value-added products such as mass timber, plywood, veneer, panelling and flooring.
The government says in a statement that those products are increasingly in demand as alternatives to carbon-intensive construction products such as cement, resulting in steady job growth in the province. 
The statement says the program will be restricted to those facilities that have minimal or no forestry tenure and are approved as a value-added manufacturer. 
Figures show overall harvest levels in the forest industry in B.C. have decreased in the past decade, but employment in the value-added sector has grown by about 35 per cent since 2012. 
Paul Rasmussen, with the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, says they’re encouraged to see the government recognize that a dedicated fibre allocation for the value-added sector is required.  
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2023. 

Read More »

Sinclar announces temporary curtailment of several northwest B.C. … – The Northern View

More forestry operators have announced mill closures in northwest B.C. due to lack of fibre supply and negative market conditions.
Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd. announced it is curtailing its lumber operations at Apollo Forest Products in Fort St.
James, Lakeland Mills in Prince George, and Nechako Lumber Co. in Vanderhoof, for two weeks, effective January 30th.
“There are factors outside of our control that are having a detrimental impact on our business,” said Sinclar President
Greg Stewart in a Jan 23 news release.
“Regrettably, it is necessary to curtail our lumber operations at this time,” he said.
Weak market conditions and constraints on an economical fibre supply are having a significant negative impact across
the B.C. forest industry.
“Sinclar remains committed to the long-term sustainability of our operations, while continuing to support our
employees, local First Nations, and communities,” said Stewart.
The Premium Pellet operation will continue to run, and Lakeland will continue to provide heat to the Prince George Downtown Renewable Energy System.

Read More »

UNDRIP agreement entrenches Indigenous rights in mining – Prince George Citizen

Christy Smith was back on a familiar stage last week at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum at Prince George Civic and Convention Centre, the same setting where 13 years ago she discussed the economic impact and benefits to Indigenous communities about to happen with the opening of the Mount Milligan mine.

In 2010 when Smith first spoke at the conference, the copper/gold mine 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George had just passed its environmental review and permitting process. With construction about to begin there was much uncertainty about where First Nations fit into the process and how their rights on resource extraction would be identified and protected in legislation.

“At that time I would never believe I’d be sitting on a panel (in 2023) talking about positive legacy,” said Smith. “I wasn’t sure where the province of B.C. was headed with respect to the Indigenous relations we had.”

Six years after Mount Milligan began producing in August 2013, B.C. became the first government to sign the United Nation Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The policy and its 89-point action plan requires the B.C. government to obtain informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous Peoples and their lands.

“When I first started in my career 25 years ago I didn’t think I’d have a career for as long as I have and really it boils down to the fact that things are changing,” said Smith, the vice-president of sustainability and Indigenous relations for Falkirk Environmental Consultants.

“UNDRIP has come in and people are starting to recognize the importance of the work that we’ve been advocating for years and years. Right now we’ve got Western science views, we’ve got the  environmental assessment and now we’re starting to see the weaving of Indigenous interests into those environmental assessments and the observations Indigenous people have had for thousands of years being taken into consideration when we’re looking at a project.”

The UNDRIP agreement provides the framework for environmental assessments that formally brings First Nations governments into the process. Smith expects there will be new court challenges that delay projects but she’s encouraged the document will foster a  new spirit of cooperation.

“There’s a lot of power that been provided with UNDRIP, we finally have a voice that’s louder than just what we’ve been advocating for,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of ways we can influence a project, but if you don’t do it right you could be in a lot of trouble.”

Charles Morven, secretary-treasurer of the Nisga’a Lisims Government, says the province has enormous mineral wealth and needs to develop more projects to stimulate the economy, especially in northwestern B.C., which is known for its gold ore, silver, nickel and copper deposits.

“I know the highest density of minerals for anywhere in the world is in our nation’s lands and that’s why the Golden Triangle is so important to British Columbia,” said Morven.

In September, Morven attended the Precious Metals Summit in Colorado where he spoke with mining companies and investors who shared their concerns about the lengthy and complicated federal environmental assessment process needed to get mines approved in B.C.

“That could be a huge problem in bringing investment into British Columbia and we need to have that discussion if we want to be able to move forward and build legacies, not just for Indigenous communities but for B.C. as a whole,” said Morven.

In December, Ascot Resources secured $200 million in funding for its Premier Gold project to refurbish an existing gold/copper mine on Nisga’a land near Stewart. Having obtained its Mines Act Permit in December 2021, the company expects to be in production by the first quarter of 2024.

 Morven says the province’s Environmental Assessment Office process follows legislative guidelines but is not bound by regulations and that delays project approvals.

“When the Indigenous community wants to be the proponent it’s a really tough challenge because the legislation doesn’t support that, and we’re finding that out firsthand,” said Morven.

“We helped a mining company within our nation giving a huge investment so they can start construction. If we weren’t there with them they might not have gotten it, because we bring certainty to any development on our lands. That’s really important and we need B.C. to see what we offer. We can’t be fighting with our own government when we want to be the developers of companies on our lands.

“We just need them to hear our concerns and work with us to move these projects forward.”

Read More »

MEGABUST: Northern B.C.’s megaproject boom coming to an end – Pique Newsmagazine

First in a series

The completion of four northern B.C. megaprojects, worth a combined $88.6 billion, will mean the end of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in the region.

Construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, the LNG Canada liquified natural gas export terminal in Kitimat, the BC Hydro Site C hydroelectric dam near Fort St. John and the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project from Edmonton to Burnaby are all expected to be substantially complete over the next two years.

According to publicly-reported data, those four projects employed an average of 18,632 people in northern B.C. throughout 2022 – a labour force equal to almost seven per cent of the entire working-age population (15 and older) of the province’s three northern economic development regions: Cariboo, Northeast, and North Coast and Nechako.

“That’s a lot of jobs,” Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) CEO Joel McKay said. “These major projects have had an absolutely significant impact… not just on northern B.C., but across the province.”

The megaprojects helped the province, and especially northern B.C., weather the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKay said. The projects didn’t just create direct jobs, but have created indirect employment in a wide range of sectors including catering, hospitality, suppliers, skilled trades, engineering firms and many more.

“It’s a very broad and diverse set of contractors and suppliers that have benefited from these projects,” McKay said.

Given the complexity of the projects and their economic impact, it is hard to estimate what the multiplier effect has been in terms of indirect jobs created, he said. McKay’s northern B.C. economic development agency estimates three indirect jobs are supported for every direct job in the forestry industry, but with temporary construction projects it is harder to estimate.

The completion of megaprojects comes at an already challenging time for northern B.C.’s economy. B.C.’s forestry, pulp and paper sectors, traditional mainstays of the northern B.C economy, are on the decline.

Canfor announced the closure of the pulp line at its Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill on Jan. 11, and its Taylor Pulp Mill has been curtailed since February 2022. Paper Excellence permanently closed its pulp mill in Mackenzie in 2021. Pacific BioEnergy permanently shuttered its wood pellet plant in Prince George in March 2022.

More mill closures are expected in 2023, and many have taken temporary curtailments to reduce production.

Economic activity from the megaprojects has helped offset some of the job losses and loss of economic activity in communities that have been hard-hit by job losses in the forest sector, McKay said.

“Mackenize and Fraser Lake are examples of communities that are seeing a lot of economic activity because they have a Coastal GasLink camp near their communities,” he said.

Those communities are “looking down the barrel of significant contraction and job losses,” when Coastal GasLink is completed later this year, and thousands of workers pack up the camps and go home, he said.

Prince George, as the service and economic hub of northern B.C., can expect to feel the pinch along with the rest of the region, he said, but the impact may not be as direct and pronounced.

“Prince George has a more diverse economy than other communities in the north,” McKay said. “It will be difficult to determine in Prince George how that is going to look.”

There are mines and other projects proposed which could help “ease the hangover” after a period of record private-sector investment in northern B.C., he said.

McKay said his “number-one fear” is these major projects will be completed and the forestry sector will continue to decline, and there will be nothing to replace that activity.

The completion of the projects will create new, permanent jobs, he said, but those jobs will represent a fraction of the jobs involved in construction. For example, LNG Canada currently employs roughly 6,000 workers during construction, but once complete the liquefied natural gas terminal is expected to create 200 to 250 ongoing jobs.

There needs to be efforts at all levels to make sure northern B.C. is a competitive jurisdiction which can attract private-sector development and get it built, McKay said.

“We have to be looking to the next thing,” he said. “You can have a $100 billion in projects planned, but if none of it ever gets built it doesn’t matter. We have to get to yes.”

If northern B.C. can’t attract new sectors and new employers to fill the gap that the megaprojects and forestry is leaving, then “we can expect things to get worse and harder in northern B.C.,” he said.

MEET THE MEGAPROJECTS

COASTAL GASLINK

TC Energy’s $11.2 billion, 670-km-long Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline was 81.2 per cent complete in December, and on schedule to be completed by the end of this year. Between January and November 2022, the project employed an average of 4,777 workers in northern B.C., reaching a peak of 6,389 workers during September. TC Energy has not yet reported worker numbers for December 2022.

TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE EXPANSION

The $21.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project to nearly triple the capacity of the 1,150-km oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby is also slated for completion later this year. The North Thompson section of the project, running from near Mount Robson to Blue River, employed an average of 2,901 workers in northern B.C.  – outnumbering local residents in the village of Valemount – from January to September 2022. Roughly 30 per cent of workers in the North Thompson section lived in the region. Trans Mountain has not yet reported its employment figures for the final quarter of 2022.

SITE C DAM

Further north, construction of BC Hydro’s $16 billion, 1,100 megawatt Site C dam was 70 per cent complete as of Sept. 30, and on target to be operational by 2025. Work on the dam employed an average of 4,954 people from January to November 2022 – including an average of 989 local residents of the Peace River Regional District and a further 2,386 British Columbians from other parts of the province. BC Hydro has not yet reported worker numbers for December of 2022.

LNG CANADA TERMINAL

In Kitimat, work on LNG Canada’s $40 billion liquified natural gas export terminal is 80 per cent complete and on track to be complete “by mid-decade,” LNG Canada CEO Jason Klein said during a presentation at the BC Natural Resource Forum on Jan. 18. Roughly 6,000 workers were on-site on the project, Klein said, and the company has projected up to 7,500 will be needed during peak construction.

“We will prove that Canada can deliver megaprojects and I hope on the back of that, that allows the  next wave of projects, most of which are Indigenous-led, to follow behind us,” Klein said.

Read More »