By / Dirk Meissner · The Canadian Press
The British Columbia government is deferring a timber harvesting fee charged to forest companies in an effort to help the struggling industry survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forest Minister Doug Donaldson said Thursday the government will not collect stumpage fees for the next three months to help forest companies with their finances during the crisis.
He said there are 45 B.C. sawmills closed indefinitely or shut down permanently, impacting 7,000 workers. The timber export market is in steep decline, especially in the United States where housing starts have slowed and timber prices have dropped, said Donaldson.
“From November to the end of February, we were averaging over $400 for 1,000 board feet for lumber exports to the U.S. and now, checking today, we’re about $319 for 1,000 board feet,” Donaldson said at a news conference. “That’s a significant drop in a short period of time.”