In the midst of British Columbia’s considerable political and forest policy flux the WSCA will hold its annual conference at the strategic ground zero: Victoria. An array of ministers will attend.

Western Silvicultural Ccontractors’ Association

26 November 2001

Memo to: All sustainable forestry foresters and contractors

From: John Betts, Executive Director WSCA

RE: WSCA Annual Conference and Trade Show Victoria, B.C. at the Laurel Point Inn 6,7,8 February 2002

I am not sure if it is meant as a curse or a blessing. But there is a saying, “May you live in interesting times.” Certainly we have a case of interesting times these days in British Columbia. Whether its a curse or not depends on the outcome of all the policy commotion we are witnessing.

The WSCA annual conference, to be held just three months from now in Victoria and only a stone’s throw from the Legislature, is well timed and positioned to give those of us interested in the fate of sustainable forestry a good vantage point on current events and possibly the future. Within a year we will have a new Employment Standards Act. The Worker’s Compensation Board is undergoing a major core review along with all government agencies and Crown corporations who’s purviews cut across silvicultural businesses. FRBC will disappear by spring. Forest policy seems destined for a long overdue shake out that could stand the industry on its head. Up to half the province’s harvest could be sold through log markets. Put all this against the political turbulence of the softwood lumber discussions with the U.S. and you have interesting times.

But its not just the politics that are interesting. Consider the forest itself. Beetle’s are ravening millions of hectares of globally-warmed forest in the Interior. At the same time forest fuel levels are building guaranteeing unnaturally intense and extensive wildfires in the future. Meanwhile the provincial wildfire fighting budget will be reduced next year. And under the proposed Forest Investment Account public spending on sustainable forestry will continue to decline. Are actually practicing sustainable forestry in the province or just talking like we do?

And then their is the changing marketplace for our services. The forest industry continues its trend towards consolidation. Are we still independent contractors if our clients dominate the market for our services?

With all this, and probably more, up in the air, for the same reasons you don’t want to miss the next few months of change in how the province does business in the forest sector, you don’t want to miss our conference. Here’s the line up so far.

An array of Cabinet members:

Graham Bruce Minister of Skills Development and Labour will talk about government’s strategic shift in employment standards and the Workers’ Compensation Board review and his expectations of the silvicultural industry.

Michael de Jong Minister of Forests will talk about everything he can.

Stan Hagen Minister of Sustainable Resources will describe his new portfolio and answer the question about whether we practice sustainable forestry in B.C.

Kevin Falcon Minster of State for Deregulation will talk about government’s remedy for red tape and how it will effect our industry.

And workshop experts:

Bob Gray wildfire ecologist and consultant will describe the pent up potential for intense wildfire seasons in the future and some of the sustainable forestry strategies we could be taking to mitigate them.

Brian Brown safety consultant will advise contractors on WCB claim management and try to demystify the controversial agency along with recommending strategies for improving our industry’s safety performance.

A handful of ergonomic experts and designers will present new tools designed to reduce injuries to silvicultural workers.

Roy Nagel of the Central Interior Logging Association will review progress on rewriting the Woodworkers’ Lien Act.

Ralph Winter from the Ministry of Forests along with government and industry experts will make the case for enhanced silviculture as a sound economic investment. This series of presentations will include field study results and recent modeling research.

The WSCA panel discussion:

The marketplace, industry consolidation, and the future of competition in the silvicultural contracting industry. This will be the theme of a panel that we are putting together. Invitations to potential panelists have gone out to industry, academics, contractor groups, and labour organizations. More details to follow as we confirm the line up. With the right mix of panelists this will get interesting.

Banquet Speaker:

Ken Druska forest columnist and author is probably the only journalist in the province who writes about forestry issues from a perspective familiar to those of us who work in the industry. He is not short of opinions and insight and he will wind things up on banquet night.

All this and more including the trade show, buffet lunch, door prizes, our AGM, board elections etc with yours truly in charge of crowd control and ceremony.


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