A movement calling on loggers throughout the province to join a Rally to Vancouver truck protest is quickly gaining momentum in the Interior and Northern B.C.
In the Cariboo, the rally is being organized by third generation logger Jorden Ilnicki of Jordco Enterprises in Williams Lake, and will see truckers from throughout the north head in a convoy to Merritt and then Vancouver to bring attention to the dire state of the industry, stopping at many resource-based communities along the route.
“Nobody was taking action here, and I feel we need to be heard and seen,” said Jorden, 25.
Jorden’s father, Tracy Ilnicki, a longtime logging company owner in Williams Lake, said he supports his son’s efforts 100 per cent to unite the industry and bring awareness to the very real struggles everyone is facing right now with the many mill curtailments and closures.
As it stands now, truckers from Prince George will be leaving home at 2 a.m. Wednesday, stopping in Quesnel to meet more truckers, and then on to the Husky Station in Williams Lake along Highway 97 at about 5 a.m., where they will gather, then head out for Merritt to meet many more truckers there, and Rally to Vancouver provincial organizer Howard McKimmon.
From Merritt, the truck rally will continue its convoy to the Lower Mainland, growing again at Hope before heading into Vancouver with a police escort to the Union of BC Municipalities convention, where the group hopes to grab the attention of Premier John Horgan.
“I’m going to be a part of it and I’m very proud to be,” said Tracy. “Whatever we have to do to get our voices out.”
Tracy, whose many pieces of logging equipment have been sitting idle for months, believes the logging industry is not being treated fairly.
“It’s not good,” he said, noting Williams Lake contractors have only worked a month since February. “It’s pretty disheartening that no one else is stepping up to help us. We’ve got nothing.”
Between Tracy’s company, Jatco Timber, and his son’s, they employ a crew of about 25 and are feeling completely helpless that they don’t have work for them.
He was forced to lay off his crew, who then had to go through the waiting period to collect employment insurance. Some are hopeful to return to work, others, he said, have moved away, tired of the situation.
“We’re all getting hit hard by it — it’s got to end soon or it’s going to end this town. It’s affecting the whole community.”
Tracy said anywhere from 20 to 50 truckers are expected to come out of Williams Lake to join the provincial convey, where there could be hundreds more.
“There’s no way to tell [how many] until the time comes,” he said. “But I think it’s going to look pretty impressive when we pull out of town.”
Jorden is encouraging as many as possible to join in the rally.
“Logging trucks, pickups, anyone and everyone are welcome and needed,” Jorden said.
“Please spread the word, our communities need this.”