Western Forestry Contractors’ Association Rumour Mill RoundUpDate, Volume 19 Issue 9

Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
28 June 2019
Volume 19 Issue 10

Warning: With the pending long weekend our fact checkers have taken an extended break and have not reviewed today’s RoundUpDate. Facts may appear in this publication without warning. Although this warning tends to preempt that warning. We apologize for the confusion this contradiction may cause regarding any facts found in this edition.

Government Reviews FRPA Intending to Improve Forest and Range Stewardship: Consults with WFCA on Proposed Legislation Changes

FRPA Forest and Range Stewardship

A lot has happened on the landscape since the Forest and Range Practices Act came into effect in 2004. One thing that didn’t happen were any reviews or amendments to the Act.

When our provincial government brought the Forest and Range Practices Act into force in 2004 it ended the “command and control” approach of the previous Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. Instead it implemented “results-based” forestry reducing the control our government had over decisions made by tenure holders. It also shifted the role of resource steward—a role traditionally played by government officials—onto tenure holders. Our government now appears intent on recovering some of that stewardship decision-making authority through changes to improve FRPA. The Act’s success partly relied on the willingness of major tenure holders to assume the stewardship responsibilities previously shouldered by government. Through professional reliance it also depended on resource management professionals to maintain the confidence of the public and government. Just how well those two FRPA challenges have worked out in practice certainly have contributed to our government’s decision to revise the legislation. Lawmakers’ disappointment with resource professionals created the 2018 Professional Governance Act establishing a superintendent to consolidate government oversight of professional regulators. As for the tenure holders’ commitment to stewardship, let’s just say there has been some tension between the ambit of FRPA and the broad set of expectations many hold around what amounts to the wisest management of our forests and rangelands. Notwithstanding that, the two decades of assault on our landscape from pests, blight and wildfire have taken a catastrophic toll; something not helped by our previous government’s failure to ever amend FRPA in the light of these changes.

Our government’s intention to improve FRPA is of critical importance and relevance to the WFCA and the forestry constituency it represents. The silviculture/forestry sector is defined and driven by the resource management priorities and policies our government enables through legislation. This week WFCA forest policy committee members met with MFLNRORD staff in Victoria to understand the current FRPA consultation process and how our sector can contribute. At the same time the silviculture/forestry sector was recently asked to sit on the forest minister’s Forest and Range Practices Advisory Council (PAC), one of the committees assisting in drafting legislation. We encourage all of our members to review the ministry’s discussion paper here.

Meanwhile the WFCA is preparing an outline of its position on FRPA to be submitted as part of the ongoing stakeholder consultation to improve the Act. The process is expected complete all its steps in time for new legislation to be in place by 2021.

Word on the Street is Planters are Happy with Wages This Spring

Planters Happy With Wages

2019 is proving a bullish year on earnings for planters. Will that help out in 2020 as annual reforestation demand reaches the record-setting range of plus 300-million seedlings?

As the spring 2019 planting season winds up (or does it wind down?) it may be premature to do a victory lap, even though we are well past 200-million of this year’s forecasted 270-million seedings. Summer Interior planting and then the fall coast remnant still remain. So far though, the news is generally good with just some character-building episodes of unusual spring wildfires disturbing things beyond the normal range of logistical surprises. Perhaps the best reports concern workers’ earnings which, we hear consistently, have improved markedly addressing what has been years of declining pay due to stagnate piece rates and inflation. Few owners are thinking much beyond the next week at this point, but what happens this year with planter satisfaction, is critical to what happens in 2020 as reforestation demand increases by 15 percent. To reach that peak the sector will not only need to retain as many happy workers as this year can muster, but it must recruit a few hundred more promising prospects next year to get a forecasted 308-million seedlings in the ground. As part of preparing for that challenge the WFCA will hold its annual summer business summit in Kamloops earlier than usual with the meeting tentatively scheduled for 22 August 2019. Nursery, consulting and silviculture contracting owners and managers please mark your calendars.

BC Wildfire Service Contractor Advisory Committee Announces Purpose and Goals

At the end of last month members of the BC Wildfire Service Contract Advisory Committee (WSCAC) steering team met in Kamloops to frame the committee’s terms of reference defining its scope, purpose and strategies. As a part of that ongoing collaboration WSCAC announced the final version of its purpose and goals in a recent letter to fire crew contractors noting that all parties at the table “were unanimous in identifying and agreeing on these critical strategic positions.” The letter can be read here. The steering committee also wrote, “Overall the tone of the meeting was constructive, discussions were candid and the commitment on both sides is genuine.” The formation of a contractor advisory committee was announced earlier in the spring. The steering committee includes contractor subject matter experts and leaders from Wildfire Operations.