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Minister says more log shipping capacity needed in B.C.

Shaun Thomas - The Northern View, November 9, 2010

Minister says more log shipping capacity needed in B.C.
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Photo by TJ Watt

The future of exporting logs from both Prince Rupert and Vancouver looks bright as Forest Minister Pat Bell announced on November 2 that Canada has surpassed Russia to become China’s largest trading partner when it comes to softwood lumber, but notes that now is not the time for B.C. to rest on its laurels.

“The number one thing we hear from CEOs here in China is about freight capacity for shipping to China. They are very concerned and say that we need to step up to ensure that the capacity is there,” said Minister Bell during a November 2 media call, noting that moving into the top position “is a reach benchmark”.

“Vancouver is almost at capacity and Prince Rupert has only incremental capacity available…It is one of the things we have already turned our attention to and Shirley Bond, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, is already doing work in that area.”

Currently Prince Rupert ships both raw logs, with 264,389 tonnes shipped as of the end of September – an increase of 73 per cent compared to the same time period - and in containers through Fairview Terminal, and those numbers could see significant growth based on this recent trade mission to China. As well as attending the groundbreaking of a new four story housing complex that will have three stories built from lumber in a development area that is expected to house 100,000 people, Bell said there are three more mid-level and two low-level housing developments on the way and a new Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with a subsidiary of the largest importer of softwood lumber in the country.

“[The housing] is a first, a new entry into the Chinese market that will hold great benefits for B.C.,” said Bell, noting that Cedar is the most dominant lumber requested for high end housing in the county.

“We’ve moved away from having to build demonstration houses to attract developers and we are now at the point where they are approaching us.”

But Skeena - Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen lashed out

at the Minister for his comments on the future of log exporting to Asia.

“Our capacity for shipping value-added products should be the question. It is great that we are interacting and trading with China, but to ship raw logs and resources when our mills are suffering is ridiculous,” he said during a November 3 media call.

“To hear the Minister of Forests talk about exporting raw logs is very frustrating…It is unconscionable for a forest minister to be talking about shipping raw logs, period. We should be scratching and fighting for all value-added product that we can get.”

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