In a good letter last week (“Higher paying jobs will come,” April 28), responding to a fine editorial the week before (“The real costs of commuting,” April 21), there was some phrasing that deserves comment: “In the wake of the declining forestry industry and the closure of the Woodfibre pulp mill, Squamish, like B.C., is diversifying itself…”
The forestry industry in this region is not “declining.” This is perhaps an easy misperception, with many years of news stories on, for example, interior pine beetle and coastal newsprint sector woes.
The timber harvesting industry has seen growing activity levels during recent years in this area since the major recession of a few years ago. And it is still working under capacity. District harvest levels are below the allowable cut.
On the processing side, I cannot think of any Squamish wood manufacturing firm that is not growing or does not have plans or desires to expand.
There may be few sectors in Squamish that have added so many high-wage jobs in recent years as forestry and wood. Together they employ several hundred people in this corridor.
Squamish forestry and wood companies are often unable to find people with the right skills – for example, equipment operators and technicians – and are interested in training and recruitment programs.
A bigger handicap is the public misperceptions, which lead to not diversification but instead neglect and displacement.
We have not replaced the Woodfibre and Interfor mill jobs lost 10 and 15 years ago. But we should not overlook the growth and future potential in forestry and wood.