A summary of the 2001 WSCA AGM held in Prince George, Feb 2001.

Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association


Coast Canadian Inn of the North, Prince George, B.C.
January 31, February  1-2, 2001

The 2001 WSCA again tackled issues from field level Silvicultural practicalities to planetary forest policy issues. And once again we will look at things forestry-related from the unique and often revealing perspective of the Silvicultural contractors of Western Canada. Over the years the conference has gained a reputation as practical, useful, open-ended, frank and even fun.

Here’s a summary of this year’s provocative conference:

Keynote Speakers:

Gordon Wilson B.C. Minister of Forests

Fresh from negotiations with the Americans what will Mr. Wilson tell us first hand about the softwood lumber agreement negotiations? What are his government¹s forestry strategies late in its mandate? Will the minister defend the NDP’s by fiat unionization of Silvicultural workers on the West Coast? What happened to Garry Wouter¹s forest sector report and recommendations commissioned by his predecessors?

Adriane Carr Leader of the B.C. Green Party

Do the Greens really have the appetite for compromise that it takes to enter politics? Does the possible rise of the Greens mean the fall of the forest industry in B.C.? How much influence will Adrian Carr¹s party have on the next election?

Ron MacDonald President and CEO Council of Forest Industries

It was said of the Hapsburg Empire in its final years that its situation was hopeless but not serious. Is the same true for the forest sector in B.C.? Will the current forest sector slump turn the industry into a spent force in the provincial economy? What strategies does Mr. MacDonald’s organization have in place amidst the fierce competition for the provincial land base from other stakeholders?

Special Panel on global influences on the B.C. Forest sector

The Roman historian Polybius said, “;The truth lies in the panoramic.”; Are British Columbian foresters so preoccupied with their own affairs they are missing the bigger global picture? This panel will strip away the illusion that B.C.’;s forest sector has diplomatic immunity from larger, irrestible trends not only outside its physical borders, but in areas such as demographics, shifting market and cultural preferences, the vagaries of international politics, and the paradoxes of world wood supply. The panelists are:

Larry Pedersen, Chief Forester of B.C
Heather Myers, UNBC International Studies (international boycotts, demographics)
David Cohen, UBC Faculty of Forestry (world wood supply)
Ward Johnson, Editor Madison’s Canadian Lumber Reporter (softwood lumber agreement)


The most interesting arena in any enterprise is where political promises and policy become practice. Silvicultural contractors live in this zone overseeing projects where some of the most important silvicultural decisions are made every time someone plants, brushes or spaces a tree. In spite of the best higher strategic thinking true insights are gained at the practical level. Some say large dinosaurs went extinct because the head end never knew what the ass end was doing. These workshops are designed to remedy that problem for field foresters and corporate planners.

Licensing silviculture contractors (plenary session): Patti Stockton Director Employment Standards Branch

Why would contractors asked to be licensed by the director of the employment standards branch? Is it some strategy to establish a contractors’ cartel? What are the reasons for licensing and what effect will it have on costs and competition? What strategies does the branch have in place to monitor contractor compliance with the new (May 2000) regulations in the Employment Standards Act? How is that linked to licensing? Will contractors be bonded?

Fertilizer toxicity: (Presenters to be announced)

Workers have heard rumours that fertilizers contain numerous toxin evev spent plutonium. On the West Coast considerable rhetoric and media attention has been focussed on this issue. In some cases work was interrupted. What are the facts? What strategies can contractors, workers, and clients arrive at to avoid problems?

Fertilizer reports

Danger tree liability: David Rowe Workers Compensation Board

This is a huge issue in terms of costs and safety for contractors and their clients. Are the current regulations impractical? Who should pay for the compliance costs? Are the rules so vague that it is unclear who is finally liable in the event of a serious injury or fatality? How can contractors, WCB and forest companies reach some clarity on this potentially catastrophic matter?

Aboriginal Forest Industry Council: Gordon Prest Coordinator UBC Faculty of Forestry First Nations Forestry and Conservation Program

Quoted in the New York Times recently Taiake Alfred, a Mohawk who directs the Indigenous Governance Programs of University of Victoria, said that “;one of the most effective ways to colonize people is to give them money and make them dependent on bureaucracy for their well being.”; Are current First Nations forestry policies implemented by government and companies avoiding this mistake or repeating it? Are First Nations forestry programs truly sustainable or just establishing new donor dependencies for aboriginal communities? And what of non-native forestry contractors and workers who claim they are being displaced by natives? Is there a more equitable and long term sustainable approach to bringing First Nations into the mainstream forestry economy?

Pine Beetle Infestation: (Presenters to be announced)

There are 23 million hectares of forest in B.C. Over one million hectares in the Interior have succumbed to the beetle making it one of the largest environmental catastrophes in the province’s history. It’s also a very large potential clear cut. Is it a disaster or a constructive chance to demonstrate our ability to manage our industrial forest? One contractor has suggested we reforest and graze the opening in the shape of the provincial logo. Is he serious?

Safety in the workplace Alberta style: Lloyd Harman Alberta Forest Products

If there is an art to implementing safety practices in the workplace Lloyd Harman is one of its best advocates. An insightful and animated presenter Harman will outline the familiar sets of prejudices many employers mistake for sound safety policy by upsetting our preconceptions about what motivates employees to safely or unsafely do the things they do. Can some of Alberta¹s safety programs work in B.C.?

Certification: What does all the hoopla mean for contractors? (Presenters to be announced.)

Contractors work for numerous forest companies many of whom are involved in different certification schemes. Is there some basic certification minimum contractors can work towards that doesn’t involve redundantly hopping through everyone¹s different certification hoops and at the same time simplifies things for forest company clients?

Fraud and enforcement on MoF contracts: Robert Day Ministry of Forests

Some of the most egregious offences by silvicultural contractors against the Criminal Code and the Employment Standards Act occur on ministry contracts. What strategies does the government have in place to improve contractor compliance on its projects? Are some ministry officials negligently failing to enforce the letter of their agreements with problem contractors? What results have ministry investigations of contractor fraud and other related offences turned up? Should only the ministry be worried?

The new Employment Standards Regulations: Pat Cullinane Employment Standards Branch

A basic review of the new regulations that have been in force since last year. ; A chance to review the small print and other interpretations regarding the new regs. How will contractors and companies actually feel the force of these new regs during the 2001 field season?

The new juvenile spacing quality inspection system: Brian Raymer Ministry of Forests

The practice of juvenile spacing and the stands themselves may have suffered by an over emphasis on inter-tree spacing in the inspection system. Changes have been made that will affect implementation by promoting best tree selection. What are those changes? Will they promote a revival of spacing and help refute arguments that spacing is a bad investment?


Wednesday, January 31st, 2001

12:00 to 1:00 pm – REGISTRATION

1:00 to 1:15 – Official Opening, Chairman Remarks

1:15 to 3:30 – Global Forestry Panel: World Influences on the BC Forest Sector

Larry Pedersen, Chief Forester of BC (overview of the broad issues)
Heather Myers, UNBC International Studies (international boycotts, demographics)
David Cohen, UBC Faculty of Forestry (world wood supply)
Ward Johnson, Editor of Madison Canadian Lumber Reporter (softwood lumber agreement)

3:30 to 4:00 – BREAK

4:00 to 5:30 – Annual General Meeting all members are invited to attend

5:30 to 6:30 – Conference Social Ice-Breaker B everyone is invited to mix and mingle with WSCA Directors, contractors and fellow industry professionals in this relaxed, informal, cash bar setting

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

7:30 to 8:30 am – REGISTRATION / TRADE SHOW

8:30 to 9:00 – Opening Remarks and Introduction to Sessions and Workshops

9:00 to 10:00 – Danger Tree Plenary Session

10:00 to 10:30 – TRADE SHOW / COFFEE

10:30 to 11:30 – Minister of Forests Address – The Honourable Gordon Wilson

11:30 to 1:00 pm – BUFFET LUNCH / TRADE SHOW – Director Elections and Workshop Sign-Ups

1:00 to 2:00 – Leader of the BC Green Party – Adriane Carr

2:00 to 3:00 – Workshop I (various break out rooms; see topics below)

3:00 to 3:30 – TRADE SHOW / COFFEE

3:30 to 4:30 – Workshop II (various break out rooms; see topics below)

4:30 to 5:15 – Workshop Reports and Action – Summaries

5:30 to 7:00 – Hospitality Suite hosted by Horizon Fibreglass Products Ltd.


BANQUET Guest Speaker:

Ron MacDonald, President and CEO, Council Forest Industries

Friday, February 2nd, 2001

8:30 to 10:30 am – Plenary Session: Licensing and BondingContractors – Patti Stockton, Director, Employment Standards Branch

10:30 to 11:00 – BREAK

11:00 to 12:00 noon – Strategic Planning Session for 2001

12:00 noon – Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Workshop Topics:

Licensing Silvicultural Contractors: – It is the law – Will it affect costs and competition?

Danger Tree Liability and Related Safety Implications: Who is responsible?

Aboriginal Forest Industry Council: How do we create sustainable opportunity for First Nations?

Fertilizer Toxicity and Workers Controversy: What are the facts?

Fraud and Enforcement on Ministry of Forest Silvicultural Contracts: Is the Ministry keeping up?

Pine Beetle Infestation: – Ecological disaster or – clear cut opportunity?

New ESA Regulations: What are the new rules? – (a review)

Certification: – Is there a uniform approach in dealing with silvicultural contractors?

Alberta Review: – What is happening with Alberta – health districts and safety regulations?

New Juvenile Spacing Inspection System: Will this change how we do spacing in BC