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A convoy of as many as 200 logging trucks is to arrive in Vancouver Wednesday as owners and drivers highlight the effects from dozens of mill closures and thousands of layoffs in British Columbia’s forest industry.

The convoy will begin in Merritt, nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

It will be escorted by police to downtown Vancouver where local and provincial politicians are gathered for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Merritt business owners and log haulers Howard McKimmon and Frank Etchart are organizing the convoy and say participants have come from all parts of the province.

McKimmon says they have lost work because sawmill closures mean they are no longer needed to carry logs to the mills.

He says the effect of the forest industry downturn is widespread, disrupting businesses from barbers to grocery stores and everything in between.

“Forest-based communities depend on forestry jobs,” McKimmon says.

He says small-town B.C. is dying and he’s calling for changes to the stumpage system to revive the industry.

A spokeswoman for the Forests Ministry says stumpage fees are set annually and paid by businesses cutting timber on Crown-owned land, but the fees can be adjusted quarterly, depending on market conditions.

Critics say if the fee was calculated more frequently, it might more accurately reflect the type and amount of wood being cut, potentially reducing costs for lumber companies.

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