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Anyone who had any doubts the economy is changing need only look at the facts provided below by BC Stats. British Columbia, the land of the logger, has become a net importer of logs. There are several factors for the huge increase in the number of logs coming into the province, including the demand for pulp and paper products which has skyrocketed in the last year. But the overwhelming conclusion is that B.C.’s forests can no longer supply enough wood for the province’s mills. There are several theories on why that is. Many would cite the reduction in the amount of harvestable timber, due to the number of protected areas, parks and preservation areas that have been created in recent years. Others would suggest that years of over-harvesting are finally catching up with the industry. Still others would point to increasingly costly methods of logging in B.C. Regardless of the reason, the statistics that show B.C. is now a net importer of logs, and factors such as last week’s announced reduction in the annual allowable cut in the Soo Timber Supply Area — the second major cut in four years and the Soo TSA is still not at a sustainable level, according to forestry officials — indicate that forestry is not going to be able to play as prominent a role in future provincial economies as it has in past. Other industries are going to have to take up the slack or the overall economy will suffer. This is not a revelation — staunch followers have long since realized that nothing in this column ever is — but the change still holds consequences, even for service-industry towns like Whistler. One need only look at the timber framing currently visible in Village North for an example of Whistler’s dependence on the forest industry. The service and information industries are often cited as examples when economists or politicians talk about the "new" economy. Whistler may be well situated for that new economy, assuming it becomes a reality, but other parts of the corridor and the province are less prepared. The shift to that new economy is not going to happen overnight. In the meantime, the transition holds consequences for all British Columbians.

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