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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - VICTORIA
Penny Sakamoto Group Publisher Kevin Laird Editor Oliver Sommer Advertising Director
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Five years out, arena plan fails Greater Victoria has the opportunity to host the Juno Awards sometime this decade, but a lack of teamwork in our region may have thrown a spanner into those works. The fact the region’s largest arena holds just 7,000 or so seats – perhaps less for an event such as the Juno Awards gala – is a stumbling block that may have been avoided, had the region’s municipalities Maybe it’s time had the foresight to together. to start thinking work Contributions from more as a region outside the city were hard to come by when the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre project was in the works, despite the fact residents from around the region would no doubt be using the facility or attending events there. A logical argument was made at the time that city taxpayers bore the brunt of the cost of borrowing for the arena, while more non-city residents will use it. Such arguments are made the opposite way today based on operational costs, for facilities such as Saanich Commonwealth Place, Oak Bay Recreation Centre and Bear Mountain Arena on the West Shore, which are funded by those municipalities. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which stages the Juno Awards, is said to have a general rule about avoiding venues under 10,000 seats for the event. That is just one example of how building a smaller arena might come back to bite the city. There appears to be a cash option allowing cities with smaller arenas to host the Junos – 2010 host St. John’s, Nfld. has the same size arena as us, but kicked in an extra $500,000 to replace lost seating revenue. But we’ve heard concert promoters say on several occasions that if there were a 10,000-seat venue here we’d be seeing bigger-name acts come to town. Could we have combined to build a bigger, more suitable arena back in 2004-05? Perhaps. But until we start thinking regionally and less as independent fiefdoms, such projects and events are likely going to pass us all by. What do you think? Give us your comments by e-mail: email@example.com or fax 250-386-2624. All letters must have a name and a telephone number for verification. The Victoria News is a member of the British Columbia Press Council, a self-regulatory body governing the province’s newspaper industry. The council considers complaints from the public about the conduct of member newspapers. If talking with the editor or publisher does not resolve your complaint about coverage or story treatment, you may contact the B.C. Press Council. Your written concern, with documentation, should be sent to B.C. Press Council, 201 Selby St., Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2R2. For information, phone 888-687-2213 or go to www.bcpresscouncil.org.
Forest industry bets on China Just as the city media report only and also surveyed the major B.C. the deaths in Afghanistan, they industry CEOs who went on the report only the mill closings in the trip. Here’s some of what I’ve found. forest industry. There is, in fact, a sharp increase There’s a journalistic conceit in demand for wood in China, with behind this: any trace of “good” the prospect of much more to news tends to be dismissed by come. Bell’s goal of selling a third of senior editors as government, or B.C.’s wood to Asia appears within worse, industry propaganda. But reach. when it comes to B.C.’s weary Whether it’s logs from private woods, the main reason land (mostly here on is that urban people just Vancouver Island and don’t care any more. regulated federally) or That was evident as I kiln-dried lumber from listened to Vancouver’s the Interior, sales to most popular radio China in particular are talk show on Friday. A where the main hope for single caller touched recovery rests. on the troubles of B.C.’s The larger question for historically dominant B.C. is to what extent logs industry, but the from Crown land will be discussion soon switched exported, as the Chinese back to the urgent matter Tom Fletcher weigh our cost versus B.C. Views of the tax on Metro that of Russian logs. parking spots. These days there are You might have heard two forest industries that another sawmill is shutting in B.C. There’s an old, inefficient down in Quesnel this week, laying one on the Coast and an Interior off 180 workers. You probably industry that’s a world leader in didn’t hear that two sawmills have efficiency. restarted in Mackenzie, or that The Truck Loggers’ Association another in Chetwynd is to restart represents the coastal harvesters, this spring after 18 months down, who are now saying bluntly to the now that specialty markets have B.C. government that their sawmills been found and mill workers have can’t compete with those in the agreed to cut their pay by $5.49 an Interior. They want the province’s hour. rules for selling Crown logs relaxed Since Forests Minister Pat Bell to at least get some loggers back in returned from his latest trade the bush. mission to China and Japan in B.C. has authorized some log November, I’ve spoken with him, exports from the North Coast, with the NDP’s new forestry critic, where there is no practical access
to mills and where the resource has essentially been ceded to aboriginal people. The notion of expanding those exports southward is likely to be a hot topic when the truck loggers hold their annual convention in Victoria next week. One thing is certain about China. It will use its huge supply of cheap labour wherever it can. Forget shipping pre-fab roof trusses over there, for example. To re-roof an apartment building in Shanghai, construction workers hoist B.C. lumber up six floors by hand and build trusses in place with hammers and Swede saws. The B.C. and federal governments have been spending heavily on demonstration projects and construction schools since 2002, trying to persuade the Chinese to build entirely with wood instead of concrete or steel. NDP forests critic Norm McDonald says Bell is overselling the gains made in China, which are mostly low-grade wood sold at a loss, or building projects subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. Bell points to private investment in a Chinese resort community, with wood-frame luxury homes that look identical to new construction in the Okanagan Valley. That’s the future. Right now, the question is log sales. Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Bell’s goal of selling a third of B.C.’s wood to Asia appears within reach.’