Local Governments Pay the Price for Lack of Leadership on Pine Beetle
VANCOUVER—The provincial and federal governments have failed to mount a coordinated and comprehensive response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic and local governments will pay the price, NDP Forests and Range Critic Bob Simpson said today.
"Provincial and federal governments have shown a real lack of leadership on pine beetle," said Simpson, MLA for Cariboo North. "Despite the devastating effect this crisis threatens to have on our economy, each are going their own way and putting minimal resources towards this slow moving disaster. And their inaction has left local governments scrambling to access the resources they need to address the pine beetle epidemic."
Simpson noted that organizations studying the affects of the pine beetle on B.C.’s economy, including the University of British Columbia, the Canadian Forest Service and the Real Estate Investment Network, have concluded that thousands of jobs will be lost and real estate values may collapse in affected communities.
"Neither the provincial nor the federal government seem to understand the breadth and depth of our current forest health crisis," said Simpson. "If they did, they would not be glossing over the fact that as early as five years from now, we will start seeing significant impacts, including mill closures, severe job loss and other social and economic affects.
"Premier Gordon Campbell must start taking aggressive leadership on this issue," said Simpson. "We need a comprehensive, long term strategy to address the full impacts of the pine beetle epidemic, and we need to ensure that our federal partners are involved in a coordinated execution of that strategy."
The NDP has called on the Campbell government to use the softwood lumber border tax, worth about $250 million annually, to assist communities affected by the pine beetle epidemic and assist in their transition.