Editor, The Times:
Measured by most any yardstick, Canfor’s plan to log in the Clearwater Valley is huge. According to the cutting plan that was given to the committee in the Clearwater Valley, nearly seven square kilometers will be clearcut and roughly 2,800 truckloads of logs removed. Several of the cut-blocks will exceed one square kilometre. All of them have prominent creeks flowing through them. Even Clearwater’s mascot volcano, Buck Hill, is destined to get a haircut.
The environmental impacts have been exposed but the threat is that the environment will be trumped by the “jobs” argument.
When the jobs argument surfaces, comparisons between extraction jobs and the question of tourism jobs versus forestry jobs usually comes along for the ride. We’ve heard it all before. The myths are spun and the cases argued on the basis of incomplete information, at best. But, what isn’t admitted is the possibility for tourism to be negatively impacted and for tourism jobs to take a real hit, unless careful choices are made. Such is the case with Canfor’s plan to log the Clearwater Valley.
Tourism may not be getting a fair shake when it comes to discussing job creation. Provincially, tourism generated over seven times as many jobs as forestry in 2012. Tourism jobs have a record of being more dependable, too. During the ’08-’09 recession, forestry lost 43 per cent of its jobs but tourism employment dropped less than two per cent. Some people are realizing the potential of tourism because, last year, there was a four per cent increase in the number of tourism facilities, here, in the North Thompson. All of this increase took place in businesses having from one to four employees.
Canfor’s plan for logging the Clearwater Valley does not bring with it the promise of long-term, sustainable jobs. The Vavenby mill processes about 8,000 truckloads of wood per year. The 2,800 truckloads from the Clearwater Valley would sustain this voracious mill for just four months, not even long enough for someone to qualify for pogey.
If Clearwater wants to label itself as “the Gateway to Wells Gray” and to maintain, or expand, its tourism sector then it might begin by safeguarding that valuable gateway, the Clearwater Valley. My bet is that foreign visitors won’t be willing to spend their hard-earned currency to see a “gateway” that has been trashed by logging when what they really wanted was wilderness. The Clearwater Valley should be off bounds to industrial logging.
It doesn’t make sense to jeopardize stable, long-term tourism jobs for a few fly-by-night forestry jobs.