Erik Piikkila cowichan forests
Ecologist Erik Piikkila stands next to a stump in the Cowichan Lake Research Station near Mesachie Lake. Photo by Jacqueline Ronson

How will Cowichan Valley candidates create a sustainable forest industry?

We sent MLA candidates your election questions. Here's what we heard.
October 17, 2020

“How can we create sustainable forestry that ends the logging of old growth forests?” That’s a question The Discourse heard from a resident of the Cowichan Valley riding after we launched a poll asking what you think should top the B.C. election agenda. 

Leading up to the election, we’re publishing candidates’ answers to questions from community members. You’ll find all our coverage in riding guides for Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Nanaimo, Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt Metchosin

As of Oct. 13, The Discourse has not received a response from BC Liberal Party candidate Tanya Kaul. We’ll update the story if we get one. Here are the responses from the other candidates.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Green Party

We urgently need to reform forestry management in BC so that it serves the needs of local communities and supports a truly sustainable industry, where all values – not just timber supply – are well managed. 

We must take back control of our forests from major corporations, ensuring forestry is meeting the needs of local communities. Our forests are a public resource that belong to the people of BC, and we need to start managing them that way.

BC Greens will protect our highly valuable old growth forests. We will immediately and fully implement the recommendations of the old growth review panel in partnership with First Nations. We will ensure an immediate end to the logging of old growth forests in high risk ecosystems across the province.

Furthermore we would move to generate more jobs and revenue from what we harvest by: 

  • Ensuring that small producers have access to fibre and incentivize value-added product innovation, including non-traditional uses of wood fibre like bio fuels, and productive uses of residual fibre. 

  • Guaranteeing the benefits of B.C. resource flow to local communities by directly sharing more resource revenues with local First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts. 

  • Making certain we support forestry workers and communities, through expanding investments into retraining and support finding new job opportunities.

Rob Douglas, BC NDP

Forestry has been at the heart of the Cowichan Valley economy for generations. There are thousands of families here that depend on it. 

The BC Liberals’ approach was bad for forestry families and our old growth. They were determined to ship BC’s raw logs elsewhere and oversaw the loss of 30,000 forestry jobs and the permanent closure of dozens of mills. 

This approach hurt families, communities and it wasn’t sustainable for our environment. 

John Horgan and the BC NDP worked hard to revitalize the coastal forestry industry, while protecting our old growth and biodiversity. We are working to restrict raw log exports while processing logs here in BC, and promoting value added products like using mass timber in our public buildings. This maintains jobs while supporting the forests, lands and watersheds that we must protect.  

The BC NDP government announced a new, holistic approach to protecting old-growth forests. It will include the protection of nine areas of land to start, totalling 353,000 hectares, and consulting on further areas for protection. We were happy to see a number of Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders support this approach. 

I come from a forestry family and work with environmental advocates, forestry workers, First Nations and local government on these important issues. I am committed to working with John Horgan and his team to build a sustainable forestry sector that supports good jobs and protects our old growth and biodiversity. 

Further reading: 

Visit the candidates’ websites: 

How do I vote?

  • Voting day is Saturday, Oct. 24, with advance polls Oct. 15 through Oct. 21. Visit Elections BC for information on where to go and what to bring.