Whitehorse Daily Star

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IN SHORT SUPPLY – A local pile of wood is seen Thursday.

YG’s Facebook post on firewood ignited indignation

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker is feeling the heat this week after a bit of a social media blunder that riled up the public.

By Tim Giilck on January 14, 2022

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker is feeling the heat this week after a bit of a social media blunder that riled up the public.

A Facebook post from the Yukon government appearing Tuesday night was the cause of the controversy.

In the post, government officials lectured Yukoners on how to properly vet their firewood suppliers. They were instructed on how to check to see if the supplier was properly licensed and had permits.

The comments on the post were quickly growing increasingly colourful before it was removed.

Many of the comments blamed the government for creating the firewood shortage that’s currently causing quite a problem for people who heat with wood.

Streicker told the Star Thursday he had asked for the post to be taken down not long after it appeared.

“I was concerned about it and thought it was a little insensitive,” he said.

The post was originally intended to be a resource to people.

Streicker said he asked for something to be published after hearing about a resident who ordered firewood and paid for it beforehand – but didn’t receive the delivery.

The intent didn’t match the spirit, Streicker said.

“Tone-deaf would be a fair characterization,” he said.

The concerns over the potential for a firewood shortage first came to light last summer and fall. At that time, it was revealed suppliers were starting to import firewood from British Columbia due to a lack of available permits and areas to cut in the Yukon.

Streicker acknowledged that was a problem that he took steps to address, although the time frame was tight.

The Quill Creek location near Haines Junction was one of the large areas brought online for cutting in the fall, but it’s still taken some time to get the operation going.

Since then, Streicker said, the heavy snow and cold temperatures have helped to slow the harvest, leaving people scrambling to find what wood they can.

Prices have also exploded for firewood, with a cord going for approximately $500.

Werner Rhein, a 78-year-old who lives near Mt. Lorne, told the Star Thursday afternoon he came close to running out of firewood last week, during temperatures that plunged into the -40s.

He said people have provided him with parts of their firewood supplies, and he’s located a smaller, independent supplier to tide him over.

Still, he isn’t happy with the situation. Rhein said he’s spoken to Streicker twice about the situation.

He said the minister listened to what he had to say, but “it’s not like we’re best buddies or anything.

“It’s ridiculous, though. We have all the energy we need standing in our backyards,” he pointed out.

The Yukon Party also weighed in on the situation Thursday morning.

“Following media reports last week of the continued lack of permits and firewood in the territory, Energy, Mines, and Resources critic Scott Kent is calling on the Liberal government to address their errors and properly work with the Yukon’s forestry industry to get more firewood in the hands of Yukoners this winter,” read a news release from the party.

The Yukon Wood Products Association brought the looming firewood shortage to the attention of Streicker and other MLAs in June 2021, citing a lack of permits issued and insufficient supply for the winter, the official Opposition recalled.

“The Liberal minister is clearly not listening to Yukoners and Yukon firewood providers,” Kent said.

“The government has been well aware of this issue since last summer and we requested on multiple occasions that he take action.

“Late permitting and a critical lack of firewood demonstrates that he ignored the warnings and has no idea of the real challenges that Yukoners are facing to stay warm or make a living cutting and delivering firewood.”

Streicker needs to meet and actually listen to industry representatives, said Kent.

“He has left Yukoners to fend for themselves in frigid temperatures. He needs to take action now to alleviate current supply concerns and ensure the territory will not see a similar shortage next winter.”

Streicker said Yukoners burn approximately 6,600 tons of firewood every year.

Comments (37)

Up 1 Down 0

Josey Wales on Jan 21, 2022 at 3:21 am

Hmmm...save a tree.
Maybe we should heat our homes with old and current government studies? Huge volumes of paper have been created by the same type of political blowholes. Between all the new age, and the voluminous reams of paper...geez I am onto something!

Up 1 Down 0

E on Jan 20, 2022 at 4:48 pm

Getting permits to cut firewood is a very old problem in Yukon, remember the issues around getting permits in the 80’s? Even now to get a permit to cut wood by hand is no big deal, but to get a permit to use a machine is a flipping nightmare. The 2 main wood cutters in Yukon are Bill’s woodcutting in Watson Lake and Bear Creek Logging in Haines Junction. Bill tried all summer to get a permit and it never did happen so he went into BC to cut wood where they had no problem to give him a permit.
Ivan at Bear Creek has finally got a permit but it’s a little bit late now to start cutting wood.
Why are we burning wood from BC? This government seems to think they are saving the whole world by not handing out permits and bringing in more and more generators to heat the newer homes. They are completely out of touch. I had higher hopes for Minister Streicker, but he is out of touch.

Up 4 Down 1

Charlie's Aunt on Jan 20, 2022 at 3:18 pm

@ Green Meanies; nice lengthy rant that is completely off topic. The article and Woodcutter's comment are about plain old firewood from dead trees; it isn't about processed pellets. By all means if it keeps you happy, just keep on burning furnace oil or diesel generated electricity for your heat. To answer bonanzajoe's question about good old days of cutting our own wood; many of those areas have now been developed as agricultural land or for housing. Personally, I am happy to purchase from a commercial operator who has done the work to develop the permit lots that are now almost the only areas available.

Up 5 Down 1

woodcutter on Jan 20, 2022 at 12:31 pm

lol - old greenie got the vocabulary and the rant, but don't know squat about the wood business,

First of all, general dead trees are removed for firewood not green trees. So there is your rebuttal of defenestration. Secondly, we are talking firewood, not pellets, do try to stay on topic. Thirdly, I love the smell of wood smoke and enjoy it even more when i am outside in the cold of winter smoking a cigarette. The smell triggers so many fond memories. Fourth, your quoting studies from an association that has a vested political interest and is beholding to the well entrenched energy sector, including petroleum sector contained with the USA. The last point you make has no comparative context to other sources of energy to heat your home.

Here is a piece of advice, limit the unnecessary verbiage and you might actually be able to get a point across.

Up 0 Down 8

Green Meanies - Forgive them for they know not what they do! on Jan 19, 2022 at 9:27 pm

Woodcutter - Burning wood is not carbon neutral. That is an ignorant propaganda being promulgated by prodigious [archaic form] pyros proffering their psychological pronouncements of pseudo-scientific petulance… Cultural activity? Here we are again, truck loads wood- death being transported into the territory with all their pests, vermin, and disease. Kill our forests… Sounds like cultural genocide to me.

New Study Debunks Carbon Neutrality of Forest Biomass - Forest Biopower from Pellets Will Not Deliver Climate Benefits:
WASHINGTON – A landmark new report shows that burning biomass for electricity will worsen climate change, rather than reduce carbon emissions as the industry claims. As American and global policymakers evaluate how to address their climate commitments, "A Bad Biomass Bet," details the immense climate impacts of using wood pellets sourced from forests in the Southeastern United States to fuel power plants, making clear that carbon emissions over the pellets' lifecycle far exceed the average emissions of power generation in the U.S., even if carbon capture and storage was added to power plants.

"You have to look at all the pollution created in the lifecycle of creating these pellets - not just what goes out the stacks when they are burned,” said Sami Yassa, Senior Scientist at NRDC. “When you do that, you see clearly that despite what the industry says, burning these wood pellets for electricity are far from carbon neutral and will not help in the fight against climate change."

Then of course their are the respiratory health related injuries and deaths that the biomass industries cause and contribute to. The dense concentrations of woodsmoke that hang over our communities in the dead of winter thickening the frigid air causing a cancerous soup in the lungs of those who breath it in… The warmth of the lungs condensating the ice captured smoke particulate creating a toxic sludge… Wheeze… Have you seen my inhaler… I think I’m having a panic… I can’t breathe!

Not only is biomass not carbon neutral it has a counterintuitive amplification effect in that in the short term it contributes to global cooling because the particulate matter reflects solar radiation out of the atmosphere while in the long term it raises global temperatures.

Up 7 Down 0

At home in the Yukon on Jan 19, 2022 at 7:38 pm

I am heating with oil this winter only because I could not get wood. The wood suppliers all agree that the government did not enable them to get supply. I'm itchy to vote.

Up 20 Down 4

Bruce Bark on Jan 19, 2022 at 8:27 am

I woke up this morning and finally realized why I'm not allowed to cut down trees for firewood. The liberals think money grows on them.

Up 8 Down 22

Whine&Dine on Jan 18, 2022 at 6:57 pm

It tires me to no end that seniors, due to their age have this sense of entitlement to bitch and complain. I don’t understand after the many years on the earth seniors feel obligated to complain about their government.

If you heat with wood then develop a game plan to ensure you have ample supply. If there is less of a supply develop a contingency plan. Crying wolf because you are in your 70’s is a cop out. Use your considerable experience to figure things out.

Up 23 Down 4

Juniper Jackson on Jan 17, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Have you met Mr. Streicker? Elliott is not the only one in the "village".

Up 27 Down 6

woodcutter on Jan 17, 2022 at 2:13 pm

@Vern, actually us commercial woodcutters paid for these roads via the fees we pay to access this public resource. There is even a separate line in the calculation for road construction and mntc. There are gates at these roads for a reason and that is to restrict access so our stuff doesn't get stolen and hunters shooting around in the wood lots, and to save the roads during the spring break up cause we know that some fool will try to go in there, rutting up the road and making a big mess. Remember these are active falling area's not tourism access roads.

Up 25 Down 2

Woodcutter on Jan 17, 2022 at 10:52 am

@bozojoe..lol not everyone went put on the old days to get their own firewood, that's why there is a long standing cultural industry in the yukon in regards to firewood/forestry. The loads of firewood, coming in from BC, has been coming in the market long before this shortage of wood lots, and I mean at least 5 or 6 years now. The business model seemed to fit the transport of logs over 500-1000km, go figure.

Simple rule in wood buying -Don't pay in advance. Just cause they have a permit is no guarantee that they are a good business on sound financial footing. A good/ honest woodcutter will not ask for payment upfront, however they will expect payment upon delivery.

Let's also be practical about burning wood and that means getting wood when the time is good and that means summer, fall, early winter and get a little extra. If your panicking at -40 cause your almost out, that's all on you. If your woodcutter is out of action cause of deep snow and extreme cold, that's just poor planning on your part.

The current price of wood is unreasonable, and at that price I'd just burn oil. I feel sorry for the folks at forestry as they are trying their best, however it's folks like greenie meanie that shove sticks into the spokes and not some political agenda from the radical left to get your carbon tax dollars.

As a note, firewood is carbon neutral. The same amount of gas is released in the burning process as is released in the decaying process.

Up 42 Down 4

Vern Schlimbesser on Jan 17, 2022 at 7:38 am

This was "GOVERNMENT" caused, make no mistake. The 'other party" will do no better, because when they get (and they will get in eventually) we will expect everything to change, and it won't.
Yukon spent millions of dollars building roads to access firewood, and then put gates on them. We made rules and procedures to protect the environment and then let those rules prevent firewood cutting. Fringe elements dominate the discussion and pursue their own narratives which just adds to the politicians problems. The only winners, and supporters of this, are the people paid to create and administer these rules.
The problem is us. We allow the absurdity to grow. We reward bad decisions. We complain and expect the complaints to cause change, but they just feed more confusion.

Up 6 Down 33

Nathan Living on Jan 16, 2022 at 9:42 pm

The GY did not respond quickly enough with firewood permitting.

At the end of the day, Minster John Streicker is an honest and fair man.

Up 50 Down 1

Bruce Bark on Jan 16, 2022 at 11:56 am

This firewood permitting problem is getting out of hand. In the Judas creek subdivision out at Marsh Lake' winter firewood harvesting is completely prohibited. What we have in our neighborhood is an area that we can apply for a designated personal use firewood permit. The only area deemed "designated " is in the ski trail area between the two entrances into the subdivision. We have a large inventory of nice standing dead in this area, the problem is this area is off limits during the winter months.
The area south and north of the ski trails is settlement land so it is off limits year around. Fair enough. In January 2021 I discovered 3 area's along the shoreline of Marsh Lake that is overcrowded with awesome firewood, probably as a result of the 2007 flood. I went into forestry at that time to get a non-designated firewood permit and was granted one immediately. I was impressed with the ease of obtaining that permit. Being "impressed" was unfortunately very short lived. It wasn't an hour after I commenced cutting that an irate neighbor showed up and informed me I needed his permission to cut there. (it's crown land). He complained until he was blue in the face, resulting in my permit being revoked. The conservation officer came out and wrote a report of which I have a copy. He concluded I was 100% compliant with the rules of the permit, stump height, no leaners, scatter the branches etc. I was told at that time that I should contact my Marsh Lake Advisory Committee (MLAC) representative to act as liaison between myself and the government. This I did, resulting in a meeting at the community center. In attendance we had members of the community, representatives from forestry, MLAC representatives, and Minister Streiker. It was a productive meeting with the majority of the attendance completely in favor of harvesting the wood, to lessen the risk of fire, lower the risk of logs floating down our lake causing hazard to boaters and as we saw last summer, clogging up the intake at the power dam. The meeting also resulting in me taking some forestry people and MLAC people on a boat tour of the area to discuss potential cutting areas.
All good, I thought, the majority had spoken and things were moving forward. WRONG. Here we are a year later. Nothing has changed, still nowhere to legally harvest personal use firewood in Judas Creek area during the winter months. Forestry will not issue a permit, nobody in that office is willing to make a decision, I get past from one person to the other, all of them appear to be afraid of conflict so the best way to deal with it is to deflect, delay, and ignore. Not impressed, not impressed at all, as my wood pile goes down and the bureaucrats do nothing to solve the problem.

Up 35 Down 3

Yukon Justice on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:42 am

The spirit of the Yukon is disappearing. In 1973 I bought six cords of fire-dried wood, Dempster cut, four feet long for $30.00 a cord delivered to my doorstep in Dawson City.

Like everything else, we will never see those days again.

Up 25 Down 10

Josey Wales on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:12 am

Hey y’all...we need to remember that just recently the COW decided on their own that
contractors doing firesmart can keep the wood they cut, awesome eh? Yeah just give our trees/away why not eh?
In my estimation I see the green wood left as always for us peasants, but the dead stuff...of course it’s gone - it is after all money.
Good money too, when you get by the city (y’all cash) to harvest it.

Yes the COW is famous for giving away assets that are not theirs, but ours.
Biomass...well that just puts a price on our forests, but the planet will be saved...wtfe greenies.
...and a real good incentive to not allow mere peasants the heat via yet more blowholes and their alleged leadership.
There are many rings in this circus, and many clowns rule in them.

Up 43 Down 3

Sheepchaser on Jan 16, 2022 at 9:51 am

From the last few years of dealing with government, the one impression I’ve formed of Minister John Streicker is that he only takes advice from those he entirely controls. That’s always bad advice.

This government needs a bit more ‘truth to power’ in its ranks, but the good-old-boy, fit-in-or-frack-off norm that pervades Yukon life across most institutions and social interactions is so entrenched, I have absolutely no hope of reform.

This jurisdiction runs like a beer-league sports team.

Up 47 Down 2

no wood for you on Jan 16, 2022 at 9:12 am

I don't always get caught with my pants down, but when I do I like to blame my staff.

Up 54 Down 3

Dave on Jan 16, 2022 at 8:22 am

I just go out in our back yard in city limits and cut mine. I wait for no government or permit to keep my family warm. The Yukon has truly gone full time stupid.

Up 8 Down 35

Green Meanies on Jan 15, 2022 at 9:44 pm

Biomass fuel industries are global killers and should be regulated as such.
Riverdale pumps more carbon into the atmosphere during one winter than all the cars in Whitehorse combined for a whole year.

Save the planet from those weenie, meanie greenies before they kill us all with their ignorances.

Up 36 Down 7

freezin' muh ice over here on Jan 15, 2022 at 7:20 pm

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed." Atlas Shrugged

Up 35 Down 7

Pokemeinthearm on Jan 15, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Hey John, I'm pretty sure the phrase "tone deaf" is considered insensitive these days. Stay woke, though, you're doing a great job ruining the Yukon.

Up 11 Down 15

Rolf on Jan 15, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Hey, does anyone know if the Yukon Party has elected a leader yet?

Up 46 Down 3

Burning wood on Jan 15, 2022 at 3:52 pm

We are surrounded by trees, and this place could burn like Fort Mac. Cut the damn things down.
The hold back on wood is someone trying to concoct a way to charge you a carbon tax .

Many delays for someone to think of a way to govern private wood sales- essentially like taxing people that hold yard sales - someone’s wheels are turning hard.

Up 63 Down 15

Wilf Carter on Jan 15, 2022 at 11:11 am

Liberals' intentionally held back firewood permits to get people to stop burning wood.
Can liberals' tell the truth or is lying just the liberal way of politics???

Up 58 Down 10

Groucho d'North on Jan 15, 2022 at 8:45 am

This gutless government will not even admit when they made an error. The permitting of firewood is not new, it has been effectively managed for many years and numerous government administrations, yet the Silver Liberals managed to find some way of slowing the approval process down. What had to change that warranted this delay in approving the regulation? In its defence the government explained they want the public to monitor the permitting process on behalf of the department. I have a better idea, why not get the public to monitor all the government and report publically whenever more faults are found?

Up 61 Down 11

Matthew on Jan 15, 2022 at 5:55 am

Usual liberals, out of touch with the citizens they're supposed to serve..

Up 65 Down 10

BS Babbleon on Jan 14, 2022 at 9:57 pm

These are the people that “you” voted into office… You should be ashamed of yourselves!!

We could turn YG into a reality TV show and spin it after the old Ripley’s Believe It Or Not TV show. You could randomly select an office or department everyday and come up with fresh material for examples of bizarre behaviour with which to test the confines of what would be expected in normal reality!

Up 63 Down 7

North_of_60 on Jan 14, 2022 at 9:11 pm

Failure to issue permits in a timely manner shows that Streicker obviously doesn't care about Yukoners who heat with wood. In his make-believe world people heat their houses with electricity from solar panels, windmills, and unicorn farts.
In the 40 years I've been heating with wood in the Yukon, the issue of permits never crossed my mind. As usual, Streicker has his priorities bass-ackwards.

Up 44 Down 6

CJ2 on Jan 14, 2022 at 8:22 pm

Having a license and a permit will not matter at all if a woodcutter takes your money and runs. Streicker continues to demonstrate a woeful lack of knowledge about this industry they've put him in charge of. Another recent example was when he insisted to the CBC that permitting had nothing to do with the firewood shortage, since the permits came through "in the fall". Yeah. Like in November. Is he going to say, no, it was October? Same difference. So when it's 40 below, and they're dealing with all the snow as well, that doesn't have anything to do with not being able to get out there before the weather got unfriendly to woodcutters?

The next thing to worry about is that he is ever so proud that they've included green wood in the permits. So that's going to be fun, when woodcutters start including green wood with their deliveries. I suppose we'll be getting posts on how to vet the firewood load.

@bonanza joe, getting your own firewood is not always the answer. There's a reason it's an industry.

Up 17 Down 41

Billy on Jan 14, 2022 at 6:39 pm

Well, some firewood cutters have gone through the pain and suffering of Forestry's permitting system. If you're buying off of some freeloader who hasn't got his permits together and paid his fees and stumpage you're just screwing over the guy who has tried to do the right thing getting a permit. Sure things are messed up on the supply front, but the law remains the law.

Up 54 Down 11

TMYK on Jan 14, 2022 at 6:32 pm

The wood shortage is no accident. This government is going to make it progressively harder and harder to get wood for heat.

Up 109 Down 18

Ken Putnam on Jan 14, 2022 at 3:57 pm

If I was to buy wood from a guy why would I ask to see his license and permit? Should we start asking barbers and waitresses, whoops, I'm sorry, I mean servers, for their permits and license?

Up 57 Down 36

Richard Smith on Jan 14, 2022 at 3:55 pm

How about allowing coal burning in sparsely populated areas. It worked great in days past.

Up 93 Down 41

bonanzajoe on Jan 14, 2022 at 3:29 pm

Streicker said Yukoners burn approximately 6,600 tons of firewood every year. Oh my goodness, and the carbon from all that smoke is going to destroy the planet. Somebody call Greta and put a stop to this.

Up 96 Down 40

bonanzajoe on Jan 14, 2022 at 3:27 pm

What happened to the old days where people went out to get their own firewood? Oh yeah, now I remember. The two Marxist ideological political partys - who's first initials are L and N.

Up 116 Down 25

Dallas on Jan 14, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Typical liberal government outa touch with the real issues surrounding the cutting of firewood….clueless.

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