Letters to the Editor – May 18

Softwood lumber dispute could have been avoided says MP

Softwood lumber dispute could have been avoided

Like many of you, I was shocked and dismayed by the Trump government’s attacks on our softwood lumber industry.

If you haven’t been following this story, here’s a brief summary:

An American trade tribunal, pressured by American lumber companies, decided that because Canadian forests are on Crown land the government is providing an “unfair” subsidy to our industry. As a result, President Trump – who only a few months ago pledged his support for trade with Canada – decided to punish us with duties of up to 24 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber imports to the U.S. More penalties will follow in June.

The Canadian lumber industry employs over 200,000 people from coast to coast, most of them in British Columbia. Many of those jobs are at risk if our ability to export to the United States is cut off.

How did it come to this?

Canada and the U.S. have had treaties over softwood lumber for many years. The most recent treaty expired on October 12, 2015. The Conservative government at the time, and the current Liberal government, both failed to sign a new treaty with the Obama administration, which was apparently prepared to negotiate a deal.

According to a recent report on the CBC, “the Obama administration was on the verge of signing a new softwood lumber deal with Canada but the pact fell through when someone on the Canadian side felt a better deal could be reached with the incoming Trump administration.”

When the Trump administration came in, they decided that softwood lumber was a vulnerable sector they could use to strike better terms in the next NAFTA negotiations.

In my opinion, the Americans are acting like bullies on this matter and we must stand up to them.

Some of the ideas that have been suggested include shutting down our pipelines and cutting the U.S. off Canadian oil; banning American beef imports; stopping the export of raw logs.

I think this last idea has a lot of merit. As we know, the Canadian economy has little to gain when we export raw logs instead of finished lumber. Better yet, we should increase our capacity to use that lumber in finished products and keep the jobs here in Canada and Kootenay-Columbia.

Too often, Canada is seen as a source of primary resources, rather than a manufacturing powerhouse. That’s a problem, because as a nation we receive much less value for our raw wood, ore, and other natural resources than we do for finished products.

Our federal and provincial governments must work together to improve our manufacturing sector. We could be producing paper, furniture, pre-fab buildings, shakes and shingles…the list goes on, and it would grow with funding for innovation for our mills and manufacturers.

However, that is a long term solution. In the meantime, it’s important that Canada use every avenue available to fight the Americans on this front.

The United States exports more goods to Canada than to China, Japan, and South Korea. Canada is the top trading partner of 35 U.S. states. Sure, they’re important to us, but we’re important to them, too.

And we have complaints. The U.S. notoriously dumps drywall on the Canadian market at cut-throat prices. American potatoes, too, have been dumped in British Columbia, forcing the Canadian government to impose duties.

What do you think Canada should do to counter the unfair tariffs on softwood lumber?

I’ll be exploring this issue in an upcoming mailing to your home. It will provide you with an opportunity to tell me your thoughts about this important issue.

Wayne Stetski

Kootenay-Columbia MP

Cadet program in need of leaders

The Cadet Program in Fernie is in significant need of adult leaders to train, administer and supervise cadets in 2757 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. The Cadet Program is community based and right now we do not have the community support we need to continue offering a dynamic, structured and engaging program, one that has been life-changing to so many youth in this area.

You may not be aware that the adult leaders of the Cadet Program come from your community; they are parents, educators, neighbours and friends. Becoming part of the Cadet Program as a Civilian Instructor or a Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) Officer is a choice that many adult leaders in Fernie have already made throughout the years, and one we hope others will consider. It’s easier than you may think, it’s a lot of fun and the skills you learn as an adult leader are transferable to your regular employment.

The cadets in your community, your children and their friends, make valuable contributions through citizenship and community-service activities. They are developing valuable life skills such as leadership, self-confidence, self-esteem, communication and teamwork. And they are relying on you to make a difference by ensuring the Cadet Program continues in this community.

If you would like to know more about the opportunities available as an adult leader in the Cadet Program, please contact Major Kevin Debiasio at 250-231-0710 or kevin.debiasio@cadets.gc.ca. Thank you for your continued support,

Capt Cheryl Major, CD

Victoria, B.C.

Daffodil Month

When loved ones are diagnosed with, or die of cancer, we often want to do something to help or honour them. Last month, the residents of the Elk Valley showed tremendous support for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Month campaign.

Local residents supported the campaign by volunteering their time to canvass their neighbourhoods and take care of our daffodil pin campaign. Others supported the campaign by attending Fernie Spring Fashion Show. Thanks to the efforts of these dedicated individuals and the generosity of community members, I am thrilled to report that we raised $4948.35 in the Elk Valley.

Money raised during Daffodil Month helps local patients and their families. The money goes towards lifesaving research, support services, advocacy as well as other important work so that fewer Canadians are affected by cancer.

The support programs recipients within the Southern Interior region represent the second largest group after Greater Vancouver area for all of the BC/Yukon region – and it is YOU who are making that difference by helping, Thank you!

Today, over 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive at least five years after diagnosis. In the 1940s, overall survival was only about 25 per cent. However, much more work remains to be done as two in five Canadians are expected to develop cancer and it is the leading cause of death in this country.

If you are interested in volunteering or hosting an event I encourage you to contact our office. Without the community’s dedication and giving nature, we could not achieve our mission “The eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer.”

Jenn Smith

Annual Giving Coordinator

Canadian Cancer Society

Why have an Official Community Plan?

Not that many years ago we were invited to participate in an Open House Meeting at the Fernie Family Centre to contribute our ideas in the formulating of an Official Community Plan for the rural areas around Fernie, under the jurisdiction of the RDEK. The cumulative results of that exercise was that the land we occupy and adjacent properties west of town but before the ski hill would remain “Large Holdings” that is a minimum of 5 acres. Several land parcels retained their current zoning of RR8, thus, a minimum size of 20 acres.

This designation is suitable for a forested, natural landscape as it supports a variety of wild mammals, including grizzly and black bear, deer, elk and moose. These animals have enough pressure with the amount of development already underway in the surrounding area. We know firsthand how dominant their presence is in this important wildlife corridor. For the most part, landowners were satisfied that their input resulted in an OCP that respected their wishes and the environment.

Now along comes a numbered company with plans to develop a “strata subdivision” on two parcels of land totaling just under 30 acres which border Lizard Creek. Their aim is to change the zoning of these properties to “Small Holdings”, that is, one hectare or 2.5 acres. The plan for these properties shows that although less than half of this land can actually be utilized on which to build, due to slope issues, they can still fit eight building sites and an access road within this space.

This proposal, although turned down by RDEK planning staff for a number of good reasons, one being it is contrary to the Official Community Plan, has been agreed to by the RDEK Board of Directors. So again, the community is invited to a public hearing at the Fernie Family Centre on Wednesday, May 24th at 7:00 pm to state our opinions on the proposed amendment to the zoning regulations.

It seems ludicrous that the board would defy their own planning department’s recommendation to turn down this development proposal and instead are voting to approve it, subject to a public meeting.

Property is purchased by looking at the current zoning and community plans so you know what is allowed before you buy. If the zoning does not suit your intentions then you buy somewhere else. Does the board consider the approval of this proposal as precedent setting? Does the board realize that there is a market for large parcels of land for particular buyers and the availability of such properties here is very limited?

If the OCP is immediately thrown away when put to the test, what is the point of having one? What were the costs associated with establishing the OCP a few short years ago? Municipal law exists to encourage proper planning, responsible land use and reliability. There are vacant parcels all through Fernie; we have the Cedars, Alpine Trails, Burma Road and Montane (to name a few) and plenty of space to expand within each of these developments.

This zoning change proposal does not fill a need and flies in the face of the Official Community Plan so we believe it should be turned down. If this concerns you, please come out to the meeting and support adherence to the Elk Valley OCP.

Rob and Marcie Welsh

Fernie, B.C.

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