COFI Merges and Splits in New Configuration

Starting January 1st, 2003, the B.C. forest industry will be represented by two bodies instead of five.

COFI Merges

From Madison’s Canadian Lumber Reporter December 6, 2002

Starting January 1st, 2003, the B.C. forest industry will be represented by two bodies instead of five. The Coast will be represented by the Coast forest & Lumber association (CFLA), while the Interior will be represented by the Council of forest INdustries (COFI). In taking this step, the CFLA will become an independent organization, while the Northern Forest Products Association, the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers Association, and the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association will all be amalgamated under the COFI umbrella.

This move is being taken to end a year long conflict between COFI and its members over rising costs and stifling bureaucracy. Several companies, including Slocan Forest Products, Tembec, and Canfor have either threatened to withdraw or have already withdrawn from COFI, leaving the industry without and effective public voice on forestry issues. The new organizations are expected to focus on policy and lumber standards.

Current president of the COFI Ron MacDonald says the consolidation has yet to be worked out, but there will be staff reductions to eliminate redundancy. MacDonald doesn’t rule out his own possible departure. Tembec and Slocan have indicated that are satisfied with the changes and will not withdraw. Canfor, however, which withdrew from COFI a year ago, says it will assess the moves before deciding whether to rejoin or not. The industry is convinced the coast and the Interior are two distinctly different regions facing distinctly different issues, and must therefore be represented by separate organizations. Both groups say they will cooperate on issues where their interests overlap.