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NDP protests log export bid

Opposition MLAs are calling on the B.C. government to stop an effort to export logs supplying a Surrey sawmill.

Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains asked Forests Minister Rich Coleman Thursday about a letter to government officials from MacKenzie Sawmill Ltd. asking them to deny an application to export logs.

In the letter, MacKenzie president Rob Sohi said his mill is one of a few independent B.C. mills left operating, employing 110 workers, and it is having difficulty obtaining the large logs it needs.

Bains and NDP forest critic Bob Simpson said the mill was getting some of its log supply from forest licences held by Interfor, but those cutting rights were transferred to the Squamish Nation as part of the B.C. Liberal government’s 2002 redistribution of forest tenures. The Squamish Nation has applied for government permission to sell logs for export.

“This minister consistently says there’s nothing he can do, and he said the same thing today,” Bains told the legislature. “In this case he has a choice, whether this mill runs or this mill shuts down.”

Coleman said in an interview the request has gone to the ministry’s Timber Export Advisory Committee, which examines log market conditions. If the committee approves the application, it would then come to him for consideration of a cabinet order.

Coleman said the government is allowing some log exports from Crown land on B.C.’s north coast, where there are no mills close enough to supply economically.

“I’ve been very restrictive, unless it’s a good case, for something on the South Coast,” he said.

tfletcher@blackpress.com

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