REAL Treehugger: Mayor Peter Politis

Peter Politis photo
A vocal supporter of sustainable forestry, Mayor Peter Politis of Cochrane Ontario answered our questions about the importance of forestry to his family and his community.

Q: Describe your family unit.

Peter Politis: Married to Linda, three children (Daughter 27, Daughter 21, Son 17) with four grand children (Boy 3, Boy 5, Girl 7, Girl 9)

Q: Where do you live?

PP: The town that’s Wonderfully Unexpected, Cochrane Ontario.

Q: how does sustainable forestry impact your community?

PP: We have the largest Gold Mine in North America and two world class forestry mills that have survived the worst recession since the great depression. Like all northern communities, economic diversity is key to our future and our survival as a people. The two forestry mills employ about n25% of our community and do this through sustainable forest management. This is critical to our ability to maintain a diversified economy and we’re thrilled that we managed to preserve these two mills while 75 others in the north could not survive. Now they will play the most critical role in diversifying our economy, driving new people with new money into our community, ad contribute to our development in the long term.

Q: Is your job directly or indirectly supported by forestry?

PP: I am the Mayor and my wife works at one of the facilities, so I’d say both. As everyone in the community relies on a vibrant economy we all indirectly rely on these facilities to sustain our families, our way of life, and our hope for the future.

Q: Describe in your own words how the forestry industry affects your livelihood.

PP: The two facilities in our community provide 25% of the direct jobs while largely contributing to the 50% of our workforce that are indirect jobs made up of small service industry of 1 to 5 employees.

Q: How do you feel about the current upswing in the Canadian forestry industry?

PP: We have an opportunity to realize what is being forecasted as a super cycle where we could see mills go back to three shifts. The sustainable forest is there and to realize this and has been idle on stump for decades. This will produce approximately another 30% more jobs in the region and an opportunity to start growing our economy as opposed to maintain status quo. I’m extremely excited and look forward to the benefits this will provide our region and our people.

Q: How do you feel about the forestry industry’s commitment to sustainability?

PP: Our forests are world renowned for there level of environmental protection and management. Each goes through an environmental assessment every 10 years, no other industry is scrutinized as much. People come from all over the world to learn how our industry and government do this while being a key player in producing forest products. We don’t need anymore regulation, we need understanding of this fact and pride in this accomplishment. Our industry is second to none in this regard.

Q: How would you be affected if sustainable forestry activities in your area were curtailed?

PP: It would be catastrophic as towns will shut down families will lose their incomes, and the forest would deteriorate as it aged without managements. We have the same amount of forests today as we did a century ago. To curtail based on misinformation and false premise would be completely irresponsible as families, a way of life and an entire race of people will disappear. It’s a steep price to pay and more reason we must proceed here diligently.

Q: What would you say to decision-makers who might be considering changes to forestry regulations without considering the impact on families like yours?

PP: This is the most irresponsible form of societal management. The reason we have a government is to help our society “govern” itself. How can decisions be made that affect the lives of a given society without being aware of the impacts on that society? This type of decision making is idealism and dangerous. The people of northern Ontario need a policy that protects them and their historic way of life. All other policies should revolve around this policy and any implementation must be based on real science and responsible assessments that clearly identify the impacts.

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