Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
24 September 2021
Volume 21 Issue 11

Warning: No traces of the annual fall seasonal outbreak of highly infectious pumpkin spice have been found in any of the facts or other content contained in this publication

WFCA Establishes Fund to Support
Lytton Wildfire Fighters

During this summer’s Lytton wildfire disaster, 28 wildfire fighters, including a BCWS unit crew and a contract crew fought the fire and assisted with the evacuation of the town. Some of the firefighters were residents of Lytton. They continued fighting as their homes burned. Others, temporarily posted, worked knowing their possessions were going up in smoke at their residences. The crews have deservedly been commended for their actions. In recognition of their bravery and resolve and as a show of support and solidarity from the larger forestry, firefighting community and the public, the WFCA has set up a fund for donations to support these workers in recovering some of their costs suffered in the Lytton wildfire. In order to contribute please click the button below:

Donate Now

Virtual WFCA Annual Business and Market Summit
Set for Next Week.

Date: Wednesday 29th September 2021
Time: 8:15am to 12:30pm

This year’s virtual conference will look at the business and operating demands, uncertainties, risks, and opportunities all of us in the forestry sector face heading into next year and beyond. We have all probably had to make more adjustments to how we do business in the last two years, than we have in the last two decades. And from what we can tell, there may be more to come. I recommend that all members of the forestry contracting sector including tree planting firms, seedling nurseries, independent consultants, brushing and weeding and fire suppression contractors take the time to attend this morning session including presentations, questions, and discussions.

If you would like to attend and have not received the Zoom coordinates, please email our office at admin@wfca.ca.

BCTS Elides COVID-19 Cost Clauses
From Planting Contracts

Workers keeping their distance. With less stringent PHO rules can contractors still keep their workers and communities safe? Photo Sylvia Fenwick-Wilson

Bidding is, in part, betting on the future. As the tree planting sector heads into its fall competitive tournament for next year’s reforestation projects it looks like contractors will still be dealing with the pandemic in 2022. With two years of COVID-19 experience already, there is reason to be confident. Our compliance with health protocols and best practices have kept the sector mostly infection-free so far. But the virus remains prevalent and unpredictable.

Previously, under the May 20th 2020 Provincial State of Emergency that ended June 30th 2021, government reforestation contracts included clauses setting rates for incremental COVID-19 health costs. That kept bidders from having to compete on safety. Some licensees followed this good example as well. Now, BCTS has elided all COVID-19 costs clauses from their contracts. Contractors will be expected to bid the costs of operating their required Communicable Disease Plans (CDPs) instituted last July into their prices for next year’s work. How the licensees will behave remains to be seen. Nevertheless, CDPs shift many previous COVID-19 Safety Plan protocols and practices from requirements to recommendations. What measures a contractor takes and incurs costs for will depend on their risk assessment of the COVID-19 hazard. That is inherently difficult because it means bidding now on risks you won’t be able to assess until next spring. Besides that contradiction, it could also make safety vulnerable to cost pressures in the market from clients and competitors.

Implementing CDPs got off to a shaky start near the end of this summer’s planting season as employers lost their ability to directly control the coming and goings of their workers. As a result, workers returning from town did bring COVID-19 back to camps. Right now a few hundred seasoned workers are planting the last trees of the year on the Coast. So far so good, as far as we can tell, when it comes to managing infections. But next year’s planting, which will attract thousands of workers working from hundreds of camps presents a far larger management challenge. To succeed under the new regime all actors will have to agree to conform as much as possible to the standards and practices that have kept the sector safe and successful so far. That adherence will have higher costs and raise tensions around who’s paying. But otherwise, 2022 will risk being a very large gamble for everyone.