Logging and the processing of lumber are key economic engines in the North Okanagan. (Photo submitted)

EDITORIAL: Forest sector remains vibrant

Residents should visit the Interior Logging Association’s 59th annual conference and trade show

There’s no question that B.C.’s economy continues to evolve as technology, tourism and natural gas gain strength.

However, while those new sectors are welcome, we need to remember that the province was built on forestry and it continues to play a significant role.

As an example, a 2015 study from MNP indicated that the forest industry contributes $12 billion annually to the provincial gross domestic product and it employs 146,000 people. Forty per cent of regional economies rely on forestry.

Here in the North Okanagan, Tolko Industries has a major presence with its corporate headquarters in downtown Vernon, as well as mills in Spallumcheen, Coldstream and Lumby.

On top of this, a number of smaller companies, including logging contractors and equipment suppliers, have deep roots in the valley and they provide critical employment from Oyama to Grindrod and from Cherryville to Falkland.

We raise the importance of forestry because the Interior Logging Association’s 59th annual conference and trade show begins Thursday and runs until Saturday in Vernon.

We would encourage residents to visit the trade show Friday and Saturday at Kal Tire Place to get a sense of the major investment forestry-related firms have made in our community and province, and the commitment to reforestation and the environment. Local youth can also learn first-hand about the career opportunities that exist in forestry now and in the future.

Yes there is some uncertainty as the Trump administration rattles chains over softwood lumber, but hopefully the rhetoric will ring hollow as the U.S.’ construction sector, and overall economic resurgence, requires access to Canadian lumber.

In the end, forestry is not a sunset sector in B.C. but a vibrant one that allows our families and communities to thrive, and that’s something to celebrate.