The Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association hosted their annual general meeting and conference in Nelson this month, and they’re hoping to bring a message about the needs of the local forest industry to Minister Steve Thomson and other elected officials.
“The ILMA is the voice of small and medium-sized, family-owned and independent sawmills, and the Southern Interior is one of the last places in the province where that type of operation even exists anymore,” said chair Mark Semeniuk of ATCO Wood Products. “Our mills have become specialized, value added manufacturers, and we operate in one of the most competitive markets in the province.”
The ILMA — which includes local mills Porcupine Wood Products, Kalesnikoff Lumber, ATCO, and J.H. Huscroft — is looking for support for recommendations to the province that would incentivize getting “the right log to the right mill.”
“When you’ve got a competitive local industry like here in the Southern Interior, it makes sense to get the most out of every piece of wood,” Semeniuk said. “Some logs should be destined for dimensional lumber or pulp, and others should be destined for manufacturing into high-value products, like furniture, beams, veneers, or other items.”
Currently, there’s no incentive to help ensure that logs move to their highest-and-best use, and the ILMA is hoping the forest minister will continue to work towards that goal.
“We’ve had some really fruitful conversations with Minister Thomson, and he is a real advocate for our industry,” said vice-chair Ken Kalesnikoff. “Our position is that the wood is a public resource, and we owe it to everyone to ensure that we’re extracting every bit of value we can. It’s what they do in Europe — because they have to, due to a lack of supply — and there’s no reason we can’t be doing the same thing here.”
The ILMA currently has nine member mills across the southern interior, from Merritt all the way to Galloway.
The association also has more than 70 associate members in related industries including silviculture, harvesting, environmental consulting, equipment supply, and more.
In total, more than $110-million in local paycheques and 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs can be attributed to ILMA members and associates.