Depending on how you want to measure it the provincial government’s BC Timber Sales is one of the largest players in British Columbia’s forest sector. It recently established an advisory committee to deal with contracting issues and establish a partnership with contractors.

WSCA Meets With Industry Giant BC Timber Sales to Discuss Contracting Practices.

Depending on how you want to measure it the provincial government’s BC Timber Sales is one of the largest players in British Columbia’s forest sector. In 2003/04 it generated $101-million in net revenue to the Crown scaling 7.9-million cubic meters of timber volume. The organization is expected to increase its share of the allowable annual cut to close to 20 per cent once the Bill 28 take-back is completed. Right now a quick tally of the 12 BC Timber Sales business regions, which consolidated the 43 forest districts previously administering the Small Business Program, shows more than $80-million estimated this year in contracts for silvicultural work, engineering, planning etc. Later this month a ministry of forest assistant deputy minister position will be announced dedicated solely to the operation of BC Timber Sales.

At a time when the BC Liberals are selling government assets the creation of BC Timber Sales may seem like a contradiction. But it is in part a paradox born out of the perennial US softwood lumber dispute. B.C. Timber Sales is in part a mechanism to demonstrate diligence on the government’s part in establishing market-based value for its wood and the stumpage to go with it. BC Timber Sales by virtue of its activities will find out what things cost and by that set allowances and rates. This more business like approach should lead to more efficient and consistent administration of government forestry contracts according to the government.

It’s the implication of the size of BC Timber Sales and its potential use as a bellwether for some costs that should have contractors’ attention. It will become, if it isn’t already, a major consumer of contractor services in the province. Last week the WSCA, along with other professional and contractor organizations, met with ministry of forests representatives to establish the BC Timber Sales Contract Advisory Committee. The group’s main purpose is to establish good communications between contractors and BC Timber Sales and through this partnership establish consistent and improving contracting practices.

The group has a wide range of contracting issues to cover including option to renew contracting, treatment of poor performers, consistency of contract management and tendering, monitoring for contractor compliance with employment standards and OH&S regulations etc. At the same time it has some unconventional policy imperatives to consider such as the transfer of silvicultural obligations and other long term contract stewardship alternatives now being discussed in Cabinet. Matters brought forward at the advisory committee level will then be taken to the BC Timber Sales Leadership Team which actually runs the organization and determines its practices. The WSCA has formed a sub-committee of its board of directors to review BC Timber Sales contracting practices and make recommendations to carry forward to the BCTS advisory committee.