Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



British Columbia Announces Changes to Softwood Stumpage

On January 14, 2009, the British Columbia Government announced that the Province will update Coastal stumpage rates to reflect market realities; introduce new measures to expand the use of B.C. wood in construction; support growth and diversification in forestry; and further support forest workers.  There is always nervousness with any changes to measures relating to softewood lumber ofr fear that the lumber industry in the United States will go bizzerk.  Just the word "stumpage" will cause a tidal wave of threats.

B.C. Premier Campbell announced numerous measures:

1.      Stumpage pricing change: A comprehensive update of stumpage rates on the Coast to reflect current market realities. Effective Jan. 15, the average sawlog stumpage price on the Coast will be less than $5 per cubic metre – compared to a rate of $18.56 per cubic metre one year ago – a reduction of more than 70 per cent.

2.      Extending Employment Insurance and Work-Sharing Program: The Province will continue encouraging the federal government to extend the Work-Sharing Program and extend Employment Insurance benefits for impacted forest workers for another year.    

     Tax exemptions for trust funds: The Province will ask the federal government for tax exemptions for support received through the Community Development Trust and BC Forestry Revitalization Trust.

4.      A Wood-First Policy: The Province will expand domestic markets for wood by requiring all new public facilities to include B.C. wood in their construction whenever possible.

a.      Expand six-storey wood-frame construction: To expand domestic markets for wood, B.C.’s new building code will raise the limit on wood-frame construction from four to six storeys, starting April 6, 2009.

b.      Expand B.C. Wood-First Policy to a national strategy: Starting with Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Province will work to extend the six-storey wood-frame building code across the country, greatly expanding the domestic market for lumber. The Province will also urge other provincial governments and the federal government to implement B.C.’s Wood-First Policy.

5.      A Commercial Forest Reserve: The Province will look at ways to establish selected areas of the land base where forestry has the priority both for harvesting and for growing new trees to secure forest jobs and investment. This will ensure harvested land remains protected as a forest asset and will not be set aside for other uses.

6.     Woodworkers’ Lien Act: The Province will introduce legislation to strengthen the Woodworkers’ Lien Act to give contractors the right to freeze logs harvested in the event they are not paid for services by a licensee.

7.      Increase access to fibre supply: Develop new tools to increase access of fibre supply by connecting tenure holders, including small tenure holders such as communities and First Nations, with customers. The TLA will play a lead role in developing and operating new marketing tools.

8.      Bioenergy tenure and pricing: The Province will look at ways to create new tenure and pricing specifically for bioenergy, increasing investment certainty and ensuring 100 per cent of a harvested tree can be utilized.

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