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The WSCA is proposing Western Canada’s tree planting and forestry contractors meet this summer to draw up a collective strategy to address the sector’s labour capacity problems.

Silviculture Sector Capacity Summit
Tuesday 8 August 2006
9:00 am to 4:30 pm
South Thompson Inn & Conference Centre
3438 Shuswap Road, Kamloops, B.C. V2H 1T2
Phone: 250-573-3777

The meeting will provide an opportunity for contractors to collectively take stock of the last few years’ changes to their workforce and their effects on production and training. Eliminating camp costs will be on the agenda along with anticipating the costs of the B.C. industry’s pending health and safety audit program. Other operating costs, particularly around increasing fuel and vehicle rentals, will be considered as well as a proposal to have the sector undergo a volunteer inter-firm cost comparison program in the hopes of improving business performance.

Just as important as analyzing present conditions the meeting will look at future silviculture service market demand including proposed funding for forestry restoration in the wake of the mountain pine beetle and wildfire, draft changes to the standing offer contract for fire fighting, future seedling sowing requests, wild fire fuel reduction programs and progress on the WSCA Green Plan 2050.

The widespread shortage of experienced tree planters (and others) may be the result of a number of factors. But it is not solely a feature of the Canadian economy’s tight job market as I am beginning to think many of our licensee and BCTS clients are prepared to believe.

The purpose of the summit is to first take stock of this year’s performance. We seem to have planted the trees. But how did the differences in production play out in everybody’s bottom lines? Will we be repeating the same scenario next spring?

After examining the recent past the rest of the conversation should be about the future. What are the anticipated costs of a younger, less-experienced and less productive workforce? What is the demand side looking like—is there really more work? What will it cost to implement the proposed SAFE Company program? Is there a collective approach to dealing with our buyers? What can be done to continue to recruit and retain the elite workers we have built our businesses on? And so on.

We will look at some specifics such as: eliminating camp costs; the future of BCTS multi-year agreements; conducting inter-company cost comparisons; resorting to the Competition Act; examining the sowing requests in the hopper and outlining future demands for other forestry work, to name a short list.

The WSCA executive is now working on an agenda for the session. But I think we are looking forward to a fairly informal get together. If we organize this too much all the good conversations will take place in the hallway. I want to see having that quality of talk to be how we spend the day; preferably in the room. I am volunteering to facilitate.

No registration fees are set for the summit. Membership is not a prerequisite to attendance. Attendees will take care of their own accommodations. The North Thompson Inn is holding rooms at its lower rates of $169.00 if you mention WSCA when you book. (This is the high season at a high end joint.) Lunch will be provided.

I need to hear from you now to confirm your attendance as soon as practicable. If I could, I would make attendance mandatory for all B.C. contractors. I think this summit is that important. I hope you do to.

Please let us know that you plan to attend.

John Betts
Executive Director
Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Phone: 250-229-4380

(South Thompson Inn & Conference Centre website is linked below)

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