Premier says softwood lumber treaty a priority for new federal government

B.C. leads in softwood lumber exports to the U.S.

Plus, Fraser Valley mayors want the ALR for industry and the Philippines wants Vancouver garbage gone 

Lumber logjam
After the election next week, the first order of business between the province and the new federal government will be about renegotiating the softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. which expired Monday. Premier Christy Clark said “B.C.’s forest industry is too important to take for granted. For lumber producers, and the communities throughout the province that depend on them, we need to avoid an unnecessary trade dispute with our most significant market,” in a statement to the legislature. The 2006 treaty cleared years of litigation between the two countries, returned $2.4 billion in duties collected to B.C. companies and created the Bi-National Softwood Lumber Council that has increased the market for wood products in the U.S. It also offered a measure of stability to the 40 per cent of B.C.’s rural communities and the 145,000 direct and indirect jobs dependent on forestry in B.C. The province leads the country in softwood lumber exports to the U.S., and despite expanding into other markets, like China, the U.S. is still our biggest market. So far the U.S. has been unwilling to discuss renewing or extending the agreement, raising the possibility that B.C. companies could face paying unwarranted duties to the U.S. when the treaty’s one-year grace period is over.

Land locked
The ALR is under threat not just from developers but from industry. Fraser Valley mayors speaking at a business forum said they can provide more local jobs if they can convert farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve into industrial sites. Mayor Henry Braun of Abbotsford said his plan for 300 acres in west Abbotsford for a new business park could create as many as 4,500 jobs. Mission Mayor Randy Hawes has his eye on an 80-acre property that Scott Paper used to grow cottonwood trees but no longer needs. Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese has in mind an innovative industry–but most of the work, it seems, will go to black soldier flies. When they are fed organic food waste, their protein-rich fly maggots produce animal feed. (Via BC Local News)

In other ALR news, the bylaws surrounding agri-tourism on farm lands within the reserve will change, and from now until November 30 the ministry of agriculture will consult with local governments so they can participate. The new standard will assist local governments in developing their own bylaws to regulate agri-tourism, accommodation and farm retail sales within the ALR. 

Trash talk
Vancouver’s two-year old garbage is causing a stink in the Philippines–including protests, petitions and even a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy. After reports from the Philippine Bureau of Customs that the 50 containers are filled with rotting household waste and soggy paper, not “scrap plastic materials for recycling” as labelled, officials are calling for Canada to take back its waste, with Senator Loren Lagarda tweeting last week that Canada has violated the Basel Convention and domestic laws. For now the trash stays, as the Ontario shipping company who sent the stuff denies the containers are mislabelled and Canada offers no further recourse. And it’s just a drop in the bucket. At 2,500 tonnes, the containers represent less than a day’s worth of trash from Metro Vancouver. (Via National Post)