Let’s all be honest

It looks like we might have finally made a breakthrough.

After years of trying to get the provincial government to start planning for the inevitable reduction in timber supply in our region, it looks like we might have finally made a breakthrough. Why? Because some very concerned public servants released documents which revealed how deep and soon timber shortfalls might be realized, and the lengths the current government was willing to go to prevent any mill closures.

I thank whomever made these documents available, because they forced their political masters to put all the documents up on their website for everyone to see. You can also view them on my website at www.bobsimpsonmla.ca.

I’ve never understood why both provincial and local government leaders were not willing to admit and start planning for the possibility of a worst case scenario in our region: timber shortages, major mill closures, and job losses. Planning for this, while trying to do what’s possible to mitigate it without putting our long term forest health at risk, would have demonstrated true leadership, instead of the boosterism we’ve experienced thus far.

Last week’s documents confirm that sometime between 2014 and 2020 we won’t have enough timber available in our immediate area to keep all our mills running as they do today. So let’s figure out what that means and how we’re going to adapt to this scenario.

Between mining, agriculture, tourism, and the emerging bioeconomy, we should be able to create replacement jobs, if not grow job opportunities in our region.

Being honest about what’s facing us is the only way to uncork the creative juices that will help us plan our way through the upcoming transition. My hope is that rather than continuing to pretend we can avoid any mill closures, the provincial government will now enable us to roll up our sleeves and start figuring out what our realistic options are.

Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

Williams Lake Tribune