There’s plenty of next steps to be taken according to Prince George Chamber of Commerce Todd Corrigall.

A roundtable discussion was held at the Prince George Chamber between members of the BC Liberal caucus and Prince George Chamber of Commerce members, as well as industry representatives.

The purpose of the discussion was to converge with regards to impacts on the forestry sector and what has been learned from the industry.

“We want to deal with the issue in the short term, and that is supporting workers and their families in communities that are in transition,” Prince George MLA Shirley Bond told MyPGNow.

Bond, along with other BC Liberal members have been touring through impacted communities to hear from the people affected by the recent curtailments and downturn of the forestry sector. She indicated the message was the same from today in Prince George compared to other visits to communities such as Clearwater, McBride, and Valemount.

“The message is the same, we need the government to provide help on the ground to support these workers to look at ways to do job-matching programs, for example, looking at opportunities in the energy industry in the short-term,” said Bond. The message was pretty clear. We feel like nobody is paying attention from the government. we want to see somebody on the ground and we want the attention that we deserve.”

The roundtable discussion included Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris, Kamloops South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, Kamloops North Thompson Peter Milobar, as well as Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, along with many Chamber members and industry representatives from the area.

“There is a concern, obviously, in the short-term for the forest industry but there’s still optimism that there will be a forest industry moving forward,” said Bond. “The question is, what does it look like? And how do we help industry, communities, and families transition into that new forest industry? We heard some really innovative ideas today, we heard some optimism. But the biggest message we heard was let’s take care of workers and contractors.”

“Let’s take care of the short-term. Let’s have those important conversations about the future of the forest industry. This is one of the absolute backbone industries of British Columbia. We’re not going to give up, we’re actually going to look for entrepreneurial ways to see that industry move forward.”

Corrigall put on and organized the discussion, which was held at the Chamber of Commerce at 890 Vancouver Street.

“We’ve watched these impacts occurring in our region, as well as other regions of BC, for several weeks now,” he said following the hour-long discussion. “The Chamber is a huge supporter of all of our industries here, but we need to understand what’s happening and where those pinch-points are so that our advocacy efforts, on behalf of our members but also on behalf of our local economy, are intrinsically tied to what the business people are saying.”

Corrigall says some of the next steps include understanding what opportunities are available as the Chamber looks to book more meetings with other business associations, unions, as well as post-secondary institutions.