New challenges for local loggers

A lack of workers and rising fuel costs are the new challenges being faced by the forest industry

A lack of workers and rising fuel costs are the new challenges being faced by the forest industry.

The challenges were discussed during a recent meeting held in Burns Lake.

Lakes District News was not permitted to attend the meeting, but were able to speak with MaryAnne Arcand, executive director of the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) before the meeting began.

According to Arcand, the challenges come at a time when the industry is beginning to ramp up again due to increasing interest from Asian markets.

She said the booming mining sector is now taking its toll on the recovering industry.

Forest industry workers have found new employment in mining, while forestry contractors are left to face a labour shortage.

The surging cost of fuel is also an added pressure contractors face as the need to keep logging trucks and equipment moving increases.

“The mining sector is poaching guys from forestry. Their skills are transferable to the mining sector and Burns Lake is at the epicenter of this with the Endako Mine expansion,” Arcand said.

Arcand said to Lakes District News that CILA are helping to address the worker shortage by partnering with the College of New Calendonia, (CNC) Lakes District Campus.

The partnership will provide job ready certification and on the ground training in forest industry related careers so students come out job ready.

“Local contractors are also offering the use of their own land and machinery for student training,” she said.

“This will be the first pilot in the province and it will be right here in Burns Lake.” CILA and CNC are still working on the final details for the program but Arcand said they are looking at a fall startup.

Several meetings similar to the Burns Lake meeting will be held over the coming weeks in communities such as Houston, Quesnel and Vanderhoof.

“We are not a union,” said Arcand. “We are here to help members, provide them with advice and suggestions and we also offer some business services.”

“We are here to help members deal with the new issues they are facing,” she said.