The crisis in British Columbia’s forestry sector that saw more than 20 sawmills close or curtail production over the summer and put some 3,000 sawmill employees out of work, at least temporarily, is showing up in worsening trade figures for the province.
To the end of August, the cascading series of mill closures and production curtailments translated into an 11-per-cent drop in the volume of lumber exports, according to trade figures from B.C. Stats.
By value, the loss appears deeper with the $3.4 billion in export sales reported by the statistical agency representing a 25-per cent decline from the same eight months of 2018, which is also weighing on B.C.’s prospects for economic growth.
And the decline in forestry shipments was the biggest reason driving a 5.3-per-cent decline in B.C.’s overall exports to the end of August.
“You just can’t take B.C.’s largest export industry and have it go through what it’s going through and not expect negative spinoff implications,” said Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of B.C. “It just has to be.”