Log exports a lifesaver for small northern town

Recently, I went on a road trip through northern B.C. and stopped in at the small community of Stewart.

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There weren’t too many customers at the local diner, so I chatted with the waitress for a while. She told me that at one time, Stewart had a population of more than 10,000 people during the mining boom, but now the town boasted a mere 500 inhabitants.

“Yes,” she said, “if it weren’t for the forestry, we’d probably be a ghost town, like Ocean Falls or Cassiar.” I asked what she meant by “the forestry” because there was no pulp mill or sawmill anywhere nearby.

“Oh, we ship logs from the deep-water port here. That’s the only thing that’s a steady business right now. Those logs are so tiny, about the diameter of your saucer there, no one else wants them. And we can’t rely on a few tourists coming up here to see the glacier in the summer.”

Later, at the spectacular Salmon Glacier, I chatted with some Swiss tourists who were overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the glacier. “Nothing to match this back home,” they told me.

Just something to keep in mind at election time. Here in southern B.C., the opinion of some politicians seems to be to ban all log exports. But keep the residents of Stewart in mind.

Without log exports, the hotel, diner, gas station … most would have to shut down. Log exports aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

Mike Lane

Saanichton

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