2011 Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TIMBER SUPPLY
MINUTES AND HANSARD
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TIMBER SUPPLY
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Mezzanine Room, Kamloops Convention Centre
1250 Rogers Way, Kamloops, B.C.
Present: John Rustad, MLA (Chair); Norm Macdonald, MLA (Deputy Chair); Harry Bains, MLA; Donna Barnett, MLA; Eric Foster, MLA; Bill Routley, MLA; Ben Stewart, MLA
Others Present: Larry Pedersen and Jim Snetsinger, Technical Advisors
1. The Chair called the Committee to order at 4:08 p.m. and made opening remarks.
2. The following witnesses appeared before the Committee and answered questions:
1) City of Kamloops
Mayor Peter Milobar
Thompson-Nicola Regional District
District of Clearwater
Mayor John Harwood
Councillor John Kreke
3. The Committee recessed from 4:46 p.m. to 4:55 p.m.
2) Kamloops Indian Band
Chief Shane Gottfriedson
Neskonlith Indian Band
Chief Judy Wilson
Simpcw First Nation
Okanagan Nation Alliance
Adams Lake Indian Band
4. The Committee recessed from 6:09 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.
3) Caverhill Lodge
4) Backcountry Lodges of BC Association
5) BC Cattlemen's Association
6) Neil Findlay
7) RiverCity Fibre
8) Sean Curry
9) Shuswap Environmental Action Society
10) Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition
5. The Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair at 9:00 p.m.
|John Rustad, MLA
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2012
Issue No. 25
ISSN 1929-5235 (Print)
ISSN 1929-5243 (Online)
* John Rustad (Nechako Lakes BC Liberal)
* Norm Macdonald (Columbia River–Revelstoke NDP)
* Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton NDP)
* Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin BC Liberal)
* Eric Foster (Vernon-Monashee BC Liberal)
* Bill Routley (Cowichan Valley NDP)
* Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna BC Liberal)
* denotes member present
Morgan Lay (Committee Researcher)
Larry Pedersen (Technical Advisor)
Jim Snetsinger (Technical Advisor)
Attending Government Staff:
Dave Peterson (Chief Forester, Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations)
Kevin Boon (B.C. Cattlemen's Association)
Jim Cooperman (Shuswap Environmental Action Society)
Rob Gay (Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition)
Chief Shane Gottfriedson (Kamloops Indian Band; Shuswap Nation Tribal Council)
Leslie Groulx (CAO, District of Clearwater)
Brad Harrison (Executive Director, Backcountry Lodges of B.C. Association)
John Harwood (Mayor, District of Clearwater)
Dave Haywood-Farmer (President, B.C. Cattlemen's Association)
John Kreke (District of Clearwater)
Larry Loney (Caverhill Lodge)
Rhona Martin (Chair, Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition)
Chief Nathan Matthew (Simpcw First Nation)
Peter Milobar (Mayor, City of Kamloops)
Randy Murray (Chair, Thompson-Nicola Regional District)
Dave Nordquist (Adams Lake Indian Band)
Chris Ortner (RiverCity Fibre Ltd.)
James Pepper (Okanagan Nation Alliance)
Cliff Ramsey (RiverCity Fibre Ltd.)
Chief Judy Wilson (Neskonlith Indian Band)
THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2012
The committee met at 4:08 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to a very warm afternoon in Kamloops, and welcome to the Special Committee on Timber Supply. My name is John Rustad. I'm the Chair of the committee and the MLA for Nechako Lakes. I'd like to start off with introductions, starting on my left.
B. Routley: Good afternoon. My name is Bill Routley, MLA for the Cowichan Valley.
H. Bains: Hello. I'm MLA Harry Bains from Surrey-Newton.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Good afternoon. My name is Norm Macdonald, and I'm the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke.
B. Stewart: Good afternoon. I'm Ben Stewart. I'm the MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
D. Barnett: Good afternoon. I'm Donna Barnett. I'm the MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
E. Foster: Good afternoon. I'm Eric Foster. I am the MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
J. Rustad (Chair): Travelling with us — the special committee had two special advisers appointed — are the two former chief foresters, Larry Pedersen and Jim Snetsinger. Also, I want to recognize in the room Dave Peterson, our current chief forester, who has done an incredible job managing to keep up with us, travelling back and forth from communities to communities.
To my left here is Susan Sourial, who is our Committee Clerk, and at the back somewhere there is Morgan Lay, waving at the back. Morgan's with the Clerk's office. For anybody that is doing a presentation for us today, please make sure you check in with Morgan so that we know you're here and we can adjust schedules accordingly if we happen to need to move some schedules around.
The Special Committee on Timber Supply was appointed in the middle of May with a mandate to look at the mid-term fibre supply, particularly associated with the mountain pine beetle epidemic. The mountain pine beetle epidemic, when it has run its course, is estimated to reduce our annual allowable cut throughout the impacted area by about ten million cubic metres per year. Put in other terms, that's about the equivalent wood required to feed about eight reasonably sized sawmills.
The committee has gone through and received a bunch of background information from the Ministry of Forests with regards to this issue. We've then undertaken a community tour, which started in Smithers a number of weeks ago, travelled along the Highway 16 Corridor out to Valemount and included the communities of Fort St. James and Mackenzie. Last week we were in the Cariboo, starting in 100 Mile House, working our way up to Prince George, including a field day out to the west of Quesnel.
This week we have done three days of provincial meetings with provincial stakeholders, and then today we started off in Merritt this morning, and we're wrapping up here in Kamloops this afternoon.
Once this is completed, people have an opportunity, also, to give us written submissions up until July 20. That can be done through our website, which is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee. They have the ability to do that up until July 20. Once we have received all of the input, the committee will then undertake some deliberations and come up with some recommendations, which are due by August 15.
The process that we've undertaken in community consultation is to start off by meeting with local municipalities, and then we go into an opportunity to meet with local First Nations and then have an opportunity for public input as well.
I'd like to start, just before we go into the first presentation, by reading a letter that will be coming from the committee to Mr. Dave Peterson.
"On behalf of the members of the Special Committee on Timber Supply, I'd like to thank you for your assistance in organizing the committee's field tour of the Quesnel timber supply area on July 4 and the overview flights on the western timber supply blocks.
"Would you be so kind as to extend sincere thanks to the following staff, who took the time to drive, guide and work with the committee members in order to answer their questions:
"Rodger Stewart, director of resource management of the Cariboo region, for coordinating the various aspects of our field tour as well as for driving one of the vans and providing explanations regarding old-growth management areas, biodiversity and mule deer winter range. Michael Pelchat, the stewardship officer, and Dale Bubela, tenures officer, Quesnel district, for their commentary during the aerial tour regarding visual quality, secondary stand structure, old-growth management areas, biodiversity and mule deer winter range. Robin Hoffos, land and resource team leader, resource manager, Cariboo region, for his explanation regarding OGMAs and biodiversity and also the mule deer winter range. Gerry MacDougall, regional executive director, Cariboo region. Krista Dunleavey and Lauri Como, resource managers, Quesnel district. Lee Naeth, range agrologist for the Quesnel district, also for driving one of our MLAs out to the airport who had to leave our committee a little early.
"The committee members were very pleased with their visit, finding it informative and of value towards enhancing the understanding of the infrastructure and numerous issues in the Quesnel timber supply area."
With that, I'd like to invite the communities' representatives to come up, and we will start our first bit of consultation. If I'm right, we have representatives from Kamloops, from the district of Clearwater, as well as from the Thompson-Nicola regional district present. I
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will allow you to introduce everyone. I think we probably should start with Mayor Peter Milobar from Kamloops.
P. Milobar: You took the words out of my mouth.
Mayor Peter Milobar, city of Kamloops.
R. Murray: Randy Murray, chairman of the Thompson regional district.
J. Harwood: John Harwood, mayor of Clearwater.
J. Kreke: John Kreke, councillor for Clearwater.
L. Groulx: Leslie Groulx, CAO for Clearwater.
J. Rustad (Chair): Welcome, and over to you for some opening words.
P. Milobar: I'm going to defer to Randy and Mayor Harwood for the opening part of it. They have a few more mills right directly within their boundaries. We'll have them speak to them, and I'll fill in the blanks with the Kamloops side of things if that's okay.
R. Murray: Thanks, Peter. With 45,000 square kilometres within the Thompson-Nicola regional district, we have a few points that our area reps have brought forward that we would like to share with you today.
The first one is regarding…. Maybe I'll preface that first by saying that I think the majority of these may deal with the environmental side and the community side. A couple of them may deal with the timber supply issue.
First of all, harvesting and logging practices. A forestry consultant should be an employee of the Ministry of Forests. That was the recommendation — that Lands and Natural Resource Operations could pay for that — and it should be reporting to the ministry so that the ministry and companies are at arm's length when it comes to the assessment.
Logging companies incur costs due to a consultant insisting on good environmental practices and may not hire that consultant again if the standards are too high. The concern was that there would be kind of an arm's-length approach in there, rather than the way it is today. So we offer that one.
Second, hydrologists should be part of all logging, and the recommendations should be forwarded to the ministry. So that's another thought in there.
The third one is that since stumpage is at waste value and there's a wider profit margin to consider selective logging, leave living trees and harvest a percentage of beetle kill as determined by the ministry. The rest could possibly be felled or composted for future forest growth. When enough live trees remain, then natural regeneration could happen. Given that it might be a slower regeneration time, that may be of some value in certain areas. It may be a little tough on forest companies, but it's certainly a regeneration option.
One of the points is a mandatory consultation with public residing within ten kilometres of the harvest area to ensure that that public consultation takes place prior to logging commencement. That's a community relations issue that we would like to ensure is maintained.
Lastly, consideration needs to be given to harvesting of species that have been affected by beetle kill. That would be species…. There sure are many of them, but an example might be ponderosa pine that were once logged extensively but now are not. Due to the beetle-kill timber, this should be opened up to specialty harvesting and processing prior to reforestation. So that might be a timber supply option.
There's a backgrounder, and I've got copies here, which I will leave with your staff.
J. Harwood: Thank you, Randy.
Thank you for this opportunity to be here today. I just want to give you a little bit of my historical background with the North Thompson Valley. Even though I'm a landed immigrant, I spent 34 years in education in the North Thompson between Clearwater and Blue River, so I have extensive knowledge of school programs and what's happened to our towns there.
I've lived in the valley 46 years, so I was there before the advent of Highway 5 going through to Alberta. I think we need to understand the implications of what that has meant to areas like ours and the transportation of lumber and logs out of that area, which did not exist prior to the time of the construction of the road.
We had a major mill that closed in 2003, and we had another mill that closed in 2009. These were the last major mills in the North Thompson Valley. We've seen most of our small communities decimated as a consequence of what's happened in the lumber industry. Fortunately for us, one of the mills has reopened, but many of the other towns within our region are not as fortunate. We have two value-added mills using lumber that we used to discard. That is now common practice in our area. We have a community forest and many woodlot operators.
We currently have a sustainable supply. But if government policy is created around fill-in for all the other areas in need, then our lumber will be overutilized, and we also will not survive.
I think that as we make decisions looking in that direction, we have to look at the consequence of what happens when you move some things out. I've listened with interest when we talk about environmental responsibility, and I shudder when I notice logs being shipped 500 kilometres one way to sustain other areas. It doesn't seem to be that we have policies that are congruent, but they're
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incongruent with one another.
We as a community had many viable tree-planting companies. Today we don't have any. Because of the idea that we should block things out, we fly people in from another province. I'm not against them. They plant a few trees, and they leave.
I believe our communities are best suited the day we recognize that we need to farm the land properly; give responsibility to local companies, not only to plant but to space and to thin and to trim, and manage those so that we maximize what is coming out of the land so that there's some interest. While these other people need jobs, unfortunately, they don't have any commitment to our communities at all, and so we've lost many jobs that were available to our younger people within our communities and to companies that we used to have.
I think we need to look at some of these policies and the way that it strips rural B.C. I think that as a mayor, one of the things I continue to do is to understand the disconnect between what politicians tell me and what bureaucrats do. I'm deeply disturbed about this when I talk to politicians and they say, "We are going to go down this road," but when the rubber hits the road, the bureaucrats make other decisions which vastly affect rural B.C., which is destroying rural B.C.
Clearwater is the last full-service town now in the North Thompson Valley and the Robson Valley until you get to Prince George. That's a scary statement when you look at all the assets that are within that area — that we have come to that.
But it is much easier to create jobs in other cities. Nothing against Peter and the government here, but it is with dismay that I watch these people drive up and down the road, sometimes four days a week. It takes 120 kilometres just to get to the base, and then they must go and do their job. We have far too much that is represented in government with what I call windshield development than what we do, which is realistic development.
It's with interest that I notice the private corporations now that have interests in rural areas have reversed this trend and are putting in people who work in that area — able to live in that area — so that they can work for at least eight or so hours a day rather than spending the time…. We have a reduced lumber office in Clearwater, and now I find that some of the staff are driving to Kamloops to do their job three days a week, and some in Kamloops are driving north four days a week.
Three or four or five jobs in Clearwater and in McBride and Dunster are significant jobs. You move them to a centre because it's bureaucratically easier, and you're destroying some of the fabric. When you take these people away we lose our young families. We lose our sports coaches. We lose our kids in the school.
I represent the school district from Clearwater north to Blue River. We have two schools in that zone now that have fewer than ten children in them. One of those had a high school at one time. So we have seen with dismay that policies that have been developed…. While they may seem good on the surface — they may be easier to administrate — they have far-reaching consequences into the fabric of our communities that have not been thought through.
Healthy communities are something that you mention in your book here, and I think it's important that we look at healthy communities. We don't represent, to a large degree, healthy communities anymore. The dads are away, the families are split up, and we're seeing a lot of evidence that this is not healthy. I spent all those years in education, and I know that split and hurt families are not of benefit to anybody.
I would urge you, as you listen to what is required, that you take careful consideration that the policies are then implemented that benefit the people, that don't just benefit a bureaucratic system, and that we try and rebuild our communities from the inside out rather than just parachute people in.
P. Milobar: I guess, from my perspective, in Kamloops proper we have some log sort yards and things of that nature, some chipping plants, but the big consumer of fibre would obviously be Domtar pulp mill. I guess my one comment I would throw out there would be that I really hope that as we move down this new technology — fibre to energy into pellets into lumber — we don't lose sight of the lumber industry and its connection with the pulp industry and the fact that as things do start to pick up in other parts of the world, we'll see — and we've seen already, with other markets developed — that demand increase and mills reopen.
I guess I worry that in our hurry to try to be cutting-edge of some energy policy, we'll wind up creating a bigger problem with fibre and timber supplies out there, trying to convert into energy in a province that can very easily create energy with hydro and other forms of gas and things like that, and start to undermine and make less competitive, due to cost factors and supply rates, the traditional industries that we have out there built around timber supply.
We saw that in the States with ethanol and what it did to corn prices and crop prices. Sometimes the best of intentions and what seems like a great environmental energy policy turns out to really be devastating to other forms of the industry that are built around that same product.
As I say, when you're a city with a large pulp mill in it that relies on a fibre supply, when you look at the economics of trying to turn fibre into energy, the reality is that our cost of electricity is so low on a world scale that….
Yes, it works in other parts of the world. When you look at what a kilowatt hour of energy costs in those
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areas, there's a reason it works. It doesn't work the same when you have some of the cheapest electricity rates in the world.
I just hope that we make sure that policies that get developed around the timber supply — how things are allocated out and what the ultimate uses for those supplies will be — take into account that big picture and just don't try to grasp at what seems to be the current technology or the hot technology of the time and create much longer-term problems.
Trying to restart a mill is one thing. Trying to restart a mill that's been down or totally disappears out of a town seems to be an impossibility. I think, moving forward, that's what we would see — those resources actually taken out.
In Kamloops we used to have a Weyerhaeuser sawmill up until a few years ago. Other than a patch of gravel land, you could not tell where that sawmill used to stand. The odds of ever seeing a sawmill back on that site would be slim to none. If it's been mothballed for a year, you have a bit of a fighting chance, as we've seen in other parts of the province, to get a sawmill back up in operation.
I would hate to see a whole shift and then a shift back again. I think that long term that doesn't bode well when you're talking about economic cycles and lumber supply cycles that take many years to roll through. That would be my caution out there — the terms of how we're allocating the resource and what actual purpose it's being allocated for.
J. Rustad (Chair): John or Leslie, would you like to add anything?
J. Harwood: No.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. Well, let's go with questions from members.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Thank you very much for the presentation. Maybe I'll just to go Clearwater. I'm just interested in, obviously, a lot of the things that you said, but let's go to the community forest. It may be that the size and the location of the community forest for Clearwater….
What you seem to be saying is…. Well, I guess the question is: in the way that that's managed, is there more opportunity for the silviculture people to be local and more steady? Is there more opportunity for manufacturing possibilities with the community forest? Does it have the size to get those sorts of opportunities?
J. Harwood: The size is somewhat restricted. They've looked for more size. It's right adjacent to the community of Clearwater, right in our watershed. But it has allowed for local employment and local interest. Of course, the great thing about the community forest is it actually brings money back into our community, instead of the profit going somewhere else. We can apply as a community to get those grants going into our community. They are very important up and down the North Thompson Valley, and they are creating employment.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): As you said, it also allows you to manage for your watershed?
J. Harwood: Yes, it does.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Presumably, there might be opportunities for interface fire management as well. So you're looking to expand the community forest then — are you?
J. Harwood: If there was that opportunity, we would love to do it. Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): And does Barriere have a community forest?
L. Groulx: Yes, they do.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): They do as well.
J. Harwood: And McBride has one?
L. Groulx: McBride does as well.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): We were up in McBride.
J. Rustad (Chair): And Valemount.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. The Special Committee on Timber — actually one of our jobs is to see and to discuss with communities and citizens if we can find more timber. Of course, if you read our document….
I have a question for the mayor of Clearwater. In your community forest you have old-growth management areas. You have viewscapes. You have mule deer range. Is there anywhere within that area that you feel we could find more timber if we took our restrictions off of some of these areas? Would you be in favour of that, or do you feel that the restrictions put on old-growth management areas and viewscapes and mule deer ranges should be left as such?
J. Harwood: I'm going to turn this one over Ms. Groulx, who also worked for forestry prior to coming over to the community.
L. Groulx: We actually have formed a forestry working group for the district of Clearwater. That's under our
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economic development committee. One of the things that was discussed was to try sticking with the 11 values of FRPA, which would be the viewscapes, etc. We realize that in order to get some of the logs out, you can't stick to that 100 percent. But certainly the sensitivity of it and keeping the sustainability of managing….
We also have tourism. Forestry and tourism are our two strongest industries. So we as a community and as an area have to balance those two.
D. Barnett: I think I hear you saying: "No, don't touch them."
L. Groulx: Basically, yeah.
B. Routley: I think you join, really, in a chorus of community leaders throughout the province of British Columbia who have talked about the need for community stability and the need for communities to feel connected to their forest resource in a very real way. You know, the loss of two mills, and I guess, one come back, partly, and the loss of value-added operations is a difficult thing. I, too, have been through those kinds of difficult issues.
I've heard from a number of other mayors such as in Valemount, where they talked about the loss of their mill and the fact that the policies today seem to allow logs to travel right through town. Of course, that does build resentment within communities. And of course, while it's a difficult balancing act, I think, when you look at timber supply and trying to get that right, definitely there is a lot of push for that.
I guess my question to you is about connecting communities. We've been tasked to look at whether or not we should be also looking at a timber management model that actually has area-based management. Nobody really mentioned community forests as something of a goal.
I wondered about your position — I guess, all of you — on community forests. Should that be a major factor in terms of a recommendation from this committee, or do you support other forms of tenure: turning over more tenure to the existing corporations that have the land base, dealing with First Nations issues? What would be your ideas of how to deal with land use allocation and any change that you might have in mind?
J. Harwood: Well I think we would have to look at a balanced position, because I think if you leaned one way too far, you would lose your major employer again out of that community. They need a model that they understand is sustainable, that they can guarantee 20 years going forward. If they don't, community forests are a great way to go, but I'm not sure it should be the major way to go.
We do have a protocol agreement with Simpcw First Nation as a community, and we work on joint forest projects. As you know, they're doing some work around McBride and that with cedar. Then they have a 15-year contract with the mill in Barriere, Gilbert Smith. So now we are seeing some creative ways to deal with the First Nations and their needs and also to fulfil the needs of the timber supply within the mills. It works both ways for us.
P. Milobar: I guess, from my perspective, to be blunt, it really doesn't bother me who's cutting the tree, who's hauling the tree, who's milling it, as long as the area near where that's all happening is seeing the biggest economic benefit they possibly can as an area, a region, as a town. That, to me, is the bigger issue as opposed to….
I have no problems with a community forest licence. I have no problems with First Nations logging, the companies logging. It's really: are we maximizing the benefit for the area that logs are being cut down and being processed in whatever fashion for, and how can we maximize that to the biggest benefit for the area?
B. Stewart: Mayor Harwood, you mentioned in your comments about some value-added operations that exist. Is that correct?
J. Harwood: Yes, they do.
B. Stewart: So could you just explain what fibre you mentioned they're using? I just missed the….
J. Harwood: Birch. They're using birch, which we used to burn all the time. Now we're doing special supplies, and it's going to Japan. It's going into utensils. We have two companies that have started up like that in the Clearwater area.
B. Stewart: Perfect. That's the type of opportunity we like to hear about. What other things in your community would help other secondary operations like that either get established or initiated in the communities?
J. Harwood: The biggest thing as a holdback right now is hydro, but we don't want to go down that road at this committee. We have no spare hydro. It's very hard to say, "Please come into our community and develop this industry," if you don't have the power to run the facility. But that's an ongoing discussion with government, as you know.
B. Stewart: Putting that aside, knowing that that's been on the discussion and that it has been well identified and it is being worked on, is there anything else besides that? Obviously, that's a contributing factor to people doing that, but I take it that with two mills shutting down, there must be considerable capacity that must have been there from them, from a hydro point of view.
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J. Harwood: Well, from hydro…. One has reopened, of course, and so they've gone back to that use. It just seems to have been absorbed, to a large degree.
I am going to ask my councillor and staff: are there other things that we would like to see pushed in that area?
L. Groulx: Well, as far as value-added goes, one of the things I'm not sure that you've addressed at all, by any of the people that have presented to you, is the non-timber forest products. Our community forest has been looking quite heavily at that, and we did a community-to-community forum with the Simpcw First Nations last winter to discuss the property rights of using non-timber forest products.
There is money that can be had. It's not large corporation dollars, but it's certainly money that keeps a family in the community, where they can be doing tourism, and the mother can be doing the non-timber forest products, in terms of picking salal or whatever they're doing. I don't know if this committee has addressed that at all, but I think that's something to be thinking about for long-term sustainability.
The second thing. In my past practice I was involved in a silviculture company from the community that did a stewardship program. He had three blocks in the Adams Lake area, where he did right from the planting to the brushing to the free-to-grow stuff. I know community forests will do that, and I'd like to see our community forest have the ability to expand and to be able to keep on doing something like that.
We also have 17 woodlots, I believe, in our community area that are working at that, and I'd like support, because it's very difficult for them sometimes. If they're not getting the…. For example, if there's only one mill to be hauling their wood to, they're only getting, like, maybe $48 on the cubic metre, where they used to get at least $65. So it's very difficult for them to carry on as a woodlot owner.
Those are my comments on that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you. Next question to Harry.
H. Bains: Thank you for the presentation. Mayor Harwood, you said that you shudder — I'm kind of rephrasing your words — when you see logs leave your community and travel 500 kilometres to sustain another community. My question is: is that still happening? If it is, or even when that happened, who was doing it and where did those logs end up?
Also, I think my question would be both to you and to Mayor Milobar. Is any portion of logs from your area used for export?
J. Harwood: When I talked about those hauls, one was used for export. They were taken from close to Blue River to Chilliwack on a daily run. The other one was when Weyerhaeuser shut down their mill in our area. To support their mill in Osoyoos, they would ship the logs from north of Clearwater to Osoyoos — to keep that open.
What we're seeing is kind of a push in the TSA, whereby we know we have some sustainable lumber where they have to move the lines further north so they can sustain things further to the south where there's a greater impact on the pine beetle.
It's not that we're totally against all logs leaving, but if it's just raw export and we're going to lose our community, it doesn't seem to be a favourable balance. Certainly, from a taxation point of view, it's not a good situation.
H. Bains: Is that still happening?
J. Harwood: Not to my knowledge, from our area right now. We are seeing more logs that are being shipped out as a consequence of what happened to the disposal of the logs that were used for the Weyerhaeuser mill. They have now been separated off and gone to other areas.
P. Milobar: From my perspective, I'm not sure what the volume would be, if any, from the direct area around Kamloops. I know there are some industry people speaking later today, local as well, that would be a little more knowledgable on that than myself.
In terms of supply, obviously, one of our larger employers is a pulp mill. So they survive on importing any of the raw logs for chipping nowadays or taking the waste from…. I believe they have 20 area mills that they get supply from. They're a somewhat important cog in that whole piece of keeping the mills viable, in terms of a way to take a chip product and turn it into a bit of money instead of just a waste product.
Our reach is a little bigger with the plant, obviously, that we operate in Kamloops. Domtar consumes a very large portion of the overall supply of the whole area.
I'm not opposed to logs moving. That's not what I was getting at when I said in terms of highest and best use and resources staying in the region. I think there are some economies of scale that you need to realistically look at and say: "Okay, is it realistic to have a sawmill every 150 kilometres, or is one in the middle of a 300-kilometre radius what's actually going to work for making a mill viable, depending on the product they're trying to mill, or not?"
Each type of industry or milling, I think, is a little different. Road conditions and haul times and all of that have to factor in. But it really comes down to how you can maximize and make it still economically viable, reasonably, for operations to be in.
I don't think any form of government can legislate somebody to try to make money. It's either a doable business, or it's not a doable business. If it's too stringent or the input costs are too high, it doesn't matter what type
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of industry it is. It's not going to work. They'll just close up, and then we're right back to closed mills and hurting towns again.
H. Bains: When Weyerhaeuser shut down, what happened to the timber that they owned?
P. Milobar: I'm trying to think off the top of my head how that…. That was a couple of years ago now.
L. Groulx: I can answer that. I don't know the percentage of the allocation, but it was divided up between two companies that purchased the timber, which were West Fraser and Interfor.
P. Milobar: And then I believe there was a First Nations component in there that was under dispute. I'm not sure how it all finalized out or not.
J. Rustad (Chair): I've just got one question, or maybe a couple of questions, given that I also have many small communities in my ridings. And in life prior to politics I used to be a school trustee and have been out in the McBride and Valemount areas and other communities. This has been a trend that has happened, well, since the Great Depression, I suppose, of the 1930s, that has seen the number of people living in rural areas moving to more urban areas, creating some of those challenges. Typically, government services follow, and when people and businesses move, government services tend to drop off as well within areas.
I'm just wondering. What can be done to reverse the trend for you in the Clearwater area? What sort of work are you doing as a community to try to look at how you deal with that trend and that changing dynamic that we have right across North America?
J. Harwood: I think when it comes to the forestry area and what we saw, some of the cutbacks over the last couple of years and removal of several jobs, we've worked with the ministry now to say: these are important to this area. This is where the logs are. This is where the action is taking place. Maybe you need to reconsider some of those policies and put the people back that make it sustainable for people to be here.
For instance, we have now got a FrontCounter B.C. in Clearwater, which is important. That saves a person trying to get a permit — a 260-kilometre drive just to get a permit. If we take these services out, we reduce every other service. So we are working with the Ministry of Forests on those types of thing.
I think it's the whole thing. To me, it's the way that we're looking at things. I talked about these people flying in — just parachuted into a community. We need to move away…. Yes, it's easier, probably, from an overall management to say, "We have 200 tree-planting contracts. Let's put them all together," but what you've done is you've taken something out of your own community.
I think we need to reassess that. I think that as taxpayers we're really not getting the best bang for the buck.
You know what? I'm glad you've been into that area. When I moved to Clearwater, the tax base of Avola and Blue River was greater than Vavenby and Clearwater. Today those two communities barely exist.
While making some of these changes — and that's not only to do with government policies; it's to do with CN; it's to do with a lot of things — what we've also done is eroded a lot of the tax base, too, that would have helped the province had we been able to maintain some of that specialty within the rural areas.
L. Groulx: Could I add something to that? What I believe we've talked about at the council table is that when the district of Clearwater office was closed down to a field office a year and a half or two years ago, as Mr. Harwood said, we did go and work with the ministry. But I do believe that in Kamloops we have a regional forest office. We also have a district office, and we have a field office where all the timber is.
Reverse that. Make the field office the district office in Kamloops, and the district office back in Clearwater.
R. Murray: If I could add something from the regional district perspective. When we're addressing economy, in all of our rural areas we're looking at connectivity. It's not done in isolation — that you would bring a large centre into a place like that.
You want to have high-speed Internet. You need to have the services that you can support mobile data dispatch, all the things that allow you to do business rurally and to have people live and work rurally, who then support the community and the province indirectly through their jobs and their homes, living in rural B.C. That is part of the trend that needs to reverse.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentations to our committee today.
I just want to remind everybody that everything that the committee does is broadcast live on the Internet and recorded by Hansard Services. Today travelling with us, with Hansard Services, are Michael Baer and Jean Medland. Hansard does a phenomenal job in terms of support for everything that is done through the Legislative Assembly.
I think we'll just take a brief recess while we set up for our next presenters.
The committee recessed from 4:46 p.m. to 4:55 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
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J. Rustad (Chair): Good afternoon again. The next part of our discussion will be with First Nations. I'm pleased today to thank the Kamloops Indian band for allowing us on their territory.
Our first speaker today will be Shane Gottfriedson.
S. Gottfriedson: Good afternoon. [Secwepemctsin was spoken] to Kamloops. Welcome to our territory.
I'm Chief of the Kamloops Indian band. I'm also the tribal chief for the Secwepemc Nation and very glad to have you here today to open up a discussion. I won't be that long, but I do have a few things I'd like to share on behalf of the tribal council and on behalf of our community as well.
The Shuswap Nation represents nine of the 17 Secwepemc bands in the central Interior of British Columbia. We have never ceded, sold or surrendered our land, nor any of our resources in our territory. As the original inhabitants of this territory since time immemorial, we should have been consulted first before any proposed changes were put forth regarding any changes in the forest tenure system in B.C.
We should be equal decision-makers when it comes to forest management decisions that impact our timber resources on a government-to-government basis. We exercise our aboriginal rights and title to our territories, to our practices, customs and traditions, and we ensure the longevity of our land and resources for future generations to come.
The Special Committee on Timber Supply appointed by the Legislative Assembly on May 16, 2012, does not have a First Nations representative on this committee. We are treated as stakeholders and not dealt with on a government-to-government basis.
This special committee has been tasked with the issue of dealing with 18.1 million hectares of pine beetle–infected forests and ten million of this supporting timber harvesting. With over half of our pine-harvesting volume being affected in the central Interior region and with increased logging that took place in many of our communities, this has implications for the water resources and the ecosystems in these areas.
It is our duty to ensure the protection of our territories, land and resources. The values and principles that guide the evaluation and decision-making regarding potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impacts should, first and foremost, be discussed with local First Nations before the general public consultations. As has been stated in the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and consultation, the province is legally obligated to consult and accommodate First Nations on land and resource decisions that could impact aboriginal interests. That's stated in the www.gov.bc.ca/arr/consultation/index.html guide.
Decisions regarding potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impacts should be inclusive of First Nations at all levels, top down, in the decision-making process. Historically, aboriginal people have been managing all aspects of our land and resources in a culturally appropriate and respectful manner.
The specific information that the committee needs to adhere to is to negotiate and discuss all aspects of the territory, land and resources on a government-to-government basis with First Nations.
The cautions and advice for the committee in considering mitigating a mid-term timber supply is that aboriginal title and rights are the first consideration when looking at any region in this province. The nation or the band will provide direction and appropriate steps to be taken in order to endorse changes, if any are to be undertaken.
If the current forestry practices continue, the negative impacts they are having on the environment will only continue to get worse. First Nations have to be a part of all tenure agreement negotiations. If tenure agreements are not inclusive of all parties affected by these agreements, the management sustainability of the area may not be first priority or even considered.
I would like to say too that, as far as we're concerned, this really isn't our preferred forum or venue for discussions. We are a part of the community, and we live here, and we respect that.
I mean, I've just seen the mayor walk out. We have a great working relationship with the mayor and our local businesses. We provide a lot to the local economy. When you think about the 10,000 Secwepemc that inhabit the Interior region, we provide a lot to our local economies through our natural resources and through our business dealings.
What we would like to really look at in the future is…. As I mentioned, again, we need to have a government-to-government process and a respectful way of how we do things, and I say this very respectfully. One thing, like myself…. I'm a very young leader, but I'm also a very proactive leader in the protection of our aboriginal title and rights. I'm very assertive over our lands and resources.
When we look at our way of life and how much we are impacted by the world growing around us, we have to be mindful. We live off the land. As Indian people, we've always lived off the land in a very respectful way of what Mother Earth does provide for us.
At one time, before the highways and all the roads and the impacts of the world around us, we were very, very simple people. Going back to about 70 years ago, we never had power; we never had electricity. As the world starts growing around us, we're starting to adapt with the change around the world.
When we talk about discussions and dialogue, I think, from our community's perspective in Tk’emlúps, we've always looked at creating positive relationships with government, with industries and third parties. When we look at some of our beliefs and how we look at do-
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ing business today, we are very, very reasonable people. That's why I said, on behalf of the tribal council, that that process of a government-to-government relationship is very imperative.
When we talk about community investment, we manage to keep our dollars and all of our jobs local in our community. I think when you look at the amount of investment in Kamloops with our industrial park and the heavy equipment and the goods and services that are all bought locally, we manage to support a local economy.
I'm proud to say that we put close to a quarter of a billion dollars back into the regional economy. That was a study that we got done by Fiscal Realities a number of years ago. It's outdated. I guarantee if we did another leakage study, it'll probably be a lot higher. But that just gives you sort of the kind of reality that we deal with.
When we talk about our forests, I think we need better forest inventory information and comparison with the existing information that is available. Right now we believe that companies have difficulty in achieving 100 percent of the timber cruise that they do now. There are no direct linkages of the existing inventory information and actually what has really been taken out of our forests.
We have never been a part of the inventory study of the Ministry of Forests. We want to be a part of that inventory study. We want to be a part of the decision-making. We want to be a part of the management, and we want to create these partnerships that benefit our economies as well.
We have some concerns about opening up our protected areas to harvest. It's really a very short-term solution. Our premise and theory is that if we are running short of timber, opening up these protected areas isn't really going to solve, I think, what we're trying to achieve. When you look at sort of the problems and the need for better utilization of the fibre into the future, our government policy needs to have a better strategy in utilization of the waste wood — or what is termed to be waste wood.
We also believe that, on the impacts to the wildlife and the habitat, the inventories are outdated in many areas. We've been working locally with the local Ministry of Forests, working on moose studies, and we believe that the huge uplift in the harvest has effects on the hydrological areas. Opening up the protected areas is really a short-term solution.
I just want to also say that we're not just here to spout off and tell you what we're thinking. We're also willing to actually put a written recommendation on the Kamloops Indian Band's position.
We believe that we have the finest technical staff in the province of British Columbia. I know the Ministry of Forests has used our technicians to look at other sorts of initiatives in the province when they were looking at drafting certain legislation.
We want to be a part of the decision-making. We want to be a part of the management. We want to have a say in what's going on in our territory.
Times have changed. We're very glad to be a part of this process, but I think when you really look at our government-to-government relationships that we need to create, we are innovative, we are forward-thinking, and we are progressive people.
When you look at the First Nations in British Columbia, we want to be a big part of all sorts of legislative changes that happen within our territory, that affect our lands, that affect our traditional territories. We will continue to stand up and assert our governmental rights. We will continue to build and forge relationships within our territory. We believe that's the only way forward.
When we talk about our land and our resources we are very, very passionate about that. We are very passionate about the medicines that are in our territory. We're very passionate about the watersheds. We're very passionate about the four-legged ones, the winged ones, the birds, because where we come from…. Historically, that is who we are.
We're very grounded culturally. We've lived off the land. The land has provided us many things as First Nations people — not only from Tk’emlúps but within our nation.
I will leave you with those words. I thank you for taking the time to come to our territory. I don't know what it is, but this hot weather is fantastic. I know I was telling Donna earlier: you guys couldn't have got a bigger room?
Anyway, it's good to see our MLAs showing some leadership and asking us what our interests are. We'll provide our interests in writing, and I hope this isn't the last time that we have a discussion about our forests and our natural resources, because times are changing, and we need to be a part of that decision-making and the management if we're ever, ever going to make sure that the next generation is going to be able to sustain.
We always like to plan in hundred years. When we look at our strategic planning, we like to plan for seven generations. Right now, I'm a grandfather. I'm a father of five. I'm a grandfather. When I first took over as chief my kids were young and I wasn't a grandpa. The more I get involved in our leadership, in our decision-making of our community…. It's what our elders always tell us: you need to start planning for the future. You've always got to think ahead. We're trying to think ahead, and we will provide you with our written information.
I'm sorry I can't stay much longer, but it is very good to see some of the people I know. I know Donna, but it's good to meet the new MLAs. I wish you all the best, and if there's anything we can do to provide more support, we will. I think that's what it's going to take: creative partnerships that benefit not just First Nations but all of the citizens of British Columbia and all of Canada.
[Secwepemctsin was spoken]. Thank you.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Chief.
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Who should be next?
J. Wilson: [Secwepemctsin was spoken.] I'm also a president of the Secwepemc Economic Development Corporation.
We did have a presentation prepared for you today, but I have to ask our technician to come up. We thought we were going to project it, so if I could ask Al Delisle to come up, please.
I'd just like to thank our Shuswap Nation Tribal Council chair for presenting on behalf of our Secwepemc people and for the issues he brought forward in regard to our lands and our territories.
It's a very serious issue we're discussing today in regard to timber supply in the province. I just wanted to underscore that the Secwepemc people have never ceded, surrendered, sold or extinguished our title to our lands and our territory.
It's very important, when we're talking about our relatives, k̓weséltken, which are our trees, because they are connected to everything in our culture. It's really important that we're here today to speak on behalf of our k̓weséltken.
I'd also like to thank the MLAs for taking this consideration and for the role you're playing in this important review. It is going to be all of us that are going to have to be at the table to have direct input in decisions in regard to how the forest is managed for all of us and that we're going in a good direction in managing that.
With the mountain pine beetle, there's a significant impact on the landscape and harvesting, watersheds and wildlife. The land use planning is really important. Our people need to be included more. I know a lot of the nation's members have taken land use planning. As Shane mentioned, it's critical to the watersheds and the wildlife.
The impact to our Secwepemc title and rights. As mentioned, now that the timber is dwindling, we are seeing more encroachment into our spiritual areas and impact on our ecosystems. That has a past and current infringement on our aboriginal title and rights.
There is a strong need for updated forest inventory that incorporates our cultural and heritage values. Government-to-government land use planning is needed to set goals and objectives that incorporate and update forest inventory information and cultural heritage values.
We need to well-define and agree to a plan to mitigate the impact of mountain pine beetle infestation, provide value from forests and investment security and increase First Nations participation and incentives to all licensees, not just the majors. Regional economic transition is important.
I was talking to Mary Anne Arcand from the logging association. I sit on the Small Business Roundtable with her for the province. She was talking about how in the north they did a lot of transition and a lot of planning. She felt they were about five years ahead of us. It was really interesting — a lot of things they were talking about in the Prince George region.
Regional economy, transition. We all have to be at the table, and we all have to plan and work at that. We need innovation — which was strongly stressed by our tribal chair, Chief Shane Gottfriedson — and the funding to do that.
The plan and the vision that we talked about for our seven generations must be based on updated information that includes First Nations values and addresses existing and future mountain pine beetle strategy for harvesting, community and social values, and environmental and cultural values. It must be specific and detailed, not a broad brushstroke to say that you figure that's the decision and that that's going to be good for all of us. We need to have our direct and specific say.
The tools to implement the plan. Legislative changes for sure. Tenure reform — I think that's been discussed a bit. Revenue and incentive reform, and also funding and innovation. Transition initiatives. Plans must be region-specific.
The legislative changes that we are speaking about are to allow greater First Nations and local involvement and a separate, funded agency to implement the plan. We can't keep going on with the status quo that we're doing.
I think the situation we're all in requires some innovation on that part. The tenure reform must be to avoid industry concentration, not just a solution for the majors. There are many small harvesters, as well as First Nations and municipalities that are involved in this now.
Greater access for First Nations to timber resources. I think our tribal chair also spoke about that.
Deal with set-asides for cultural heritage and values. That's a really important underscore for that.
We talked about the wild spirit places or sacred circles. We've been dealing with a number of them in our area — Kela7scen, which is on Mount Ida, and Skwelkwek'welt. There are a number of mountains in our areas that we definitely have to be able to plan for. We need to also encourage that long-term investment. I guess as Secwepemc people we have an interest in every timber, every tree that's on the land, and the ties to our territory.
Revenue incentive reform must invest in our future. Stumpage offsets. The annual allowable cut uplift for a defined and improved forest practice. We require investment for a secured long-term tenure.
The funding and innovation must invest in our future. Set base funding on regional plans. Increase funding based on innovative fibre use and increase funding based on innovative silvicultural practices.
The transition initiatives are for our future. Our funding must be maintained and enhanced and strong regional plans developed and implemented, beetle action coalition enhanced, and mandated federal and provincial
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funding for initiatives.
The specific region must invest. Plans must be specific, not broad-brushed, as mentioned. Deep involvement from First Nations and local communities, adaptive and accessible, based on up-to-date information and inventory data. Incorporate a local fire risk mitigation.
In summary, mountain pine beetle impact has been significant on the landscape and First Nations' cultural heritage, rights and title. We have a strong need for updated forestry inventory information on a regional level that incorporates First Nation values. That's a really important step, because as we were rushing into mountain pine beetle I think that was one of the steps that we really needed to focus on.
A strong need for government-to-government land use planning to set up-to-date goals and objectives that incorporate our values. A regional plan based on up-to-date information that is adaptive and innovative. Tools and funding to effectively implement the regional plans.
Significantly increase First Nations participation. I think that's what we're all here today to speak about. For far too long we've been at the side tables. If we're talking about our future, we need to be at the table.
Legislative changes that provide increased investment, that enhance First Nations participation in the forest industry. We feel a separate and mandated agency is needed to develop and implement the regional plans with full First Nation participation. I think that would be a great step forward.
So transitional planning through the mountain pine beetle coalitions is where we're at. I also serve on the SIBAC board. Transitional plans must involve First Nations, and federal funding is not just a provincial issue. It's actually a cross-Canada issue. Deep consultation with First Nations throughout the review and process.
We kind of painted a bit of that picture with what that vision is, stepping forward. I'd like thank you again for listening to our words. As Shane's welcomed you to our territory and the Secwepemc people, with the number of First Nations you see at the table here from the Secwepemc, you see that we take this issue very seriously.
We just want to make sure that anything that's happening to our k̓weséltken and the relatives on the land or our water or our land is done in a good way and that we're at the table to make those decisions as well. Kukwstsétsemc.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. Thank you for your welcoming words. Who wishes to be next?
N. Matthew: Good afternoon. I'm Nathan Matthew. I'm a Simpcw First Nation, Secwepemc, and I speak on behalf of the Simpcw First Nation, particularly the council. I've been asked to speak.
I don't have a lot more to add, I guess, from the words of Chief Shane and Chief Judy, but I think it's important to take this opportunity to make a number of points.
Welcome to the Secwepemc territory.
We believe that the discussion of the resources within the Secwepemc territory should be discussed on a government-to-government basis, with the Secwepemc and the province of B.C. That would be our preferred method of discussion around this important topic initially. There are a lot of other discussions, as you know, that should be taking place.
Anyway, we are taking this opportunity and again want to reaffirm that we have unextinguished title and rights to our territory, and these are unresolved issues. They continue to this day. They are very real. The rights of the Secwepemc people are constitutionally and legally protected by the Supreme Court, and we've been instructed by those bodies to negotiate.
Some First Nations are dealing with it within the treaty areas and negotiating treaties with respect to these kinds of issues. For us, we're negotiating issues outside of the treaty process, and we are doing it on a government-to-government basis.
I just want to reaffirm that First Nations people have a right to live in this world as First Nations people, with rights recognized and respected — to live within our culture; live within our territories; to benefit from the resources within those territories and live in a good way and be able to select our form of representation and government; and to have a decision in the way that we live and the kind and quality of life that our people have.
As you know, for the last 200 years this has been quite a challenge. It's only been recently, through relationships with the province of B.C. and the new relationship accord, that we've decided to deal with our issues in a respectful way in a government-to-government fashion, respecting the rights of First Nations people as well as the rights and the obligations of the province of B.C. and within the constitution of this country.
This is most recent, and it's been, on our side, a long time coming. As we go along that path, we have different circumstances that are facing us that are challenging. The economy is one of them, and in this case, based on the forest economy, we are suddenly challenged.
In our history, First Nations people — the Secwepemc and, I know, the Simpcw for sure — have been purposely marginalized from being able to fully participate and benefit from the natural resources that are within our territories. Again, most recently we've been negotiating, and we've been fairly successful in moving toward a more respectful relationship and gaining health and well-being from being able to access resources, to our benefit.
We've been able to have licences, mainly five-year NRFLs that are very short term. But we've been successful in that. We've tried a number of economic ventures, and we've had varied success.
As we move along, we are learning, and we are gaining more and more capacity to work within the resource
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sector that we have. It's not just forestry. There are other areas that we're dealing with, but in forestry in particular. We enjoy that opportunity, and it's a good challenge to have a way to express ourselves and to move into the area of the B.C. forest-related economy.
Just as we start to…. We're currently negotiating an accommodation to the rights that we have through consultation, and as we talk about what kind and quality of fibre, perhaps, that the Simpcw people could access through negotiation along comes this beetlemania, the beetle situation.
We seem to be going right back 25 years, when we were sitting there watching all of the logging trucks that were taking timber out of our territory. We didn't have a say, and we didn't have much benefit, other than being loggers and the workers in the woods and in the sawmills.
We've had a history of where we are the last ones in. When our rights were recognized initially, we were told that there was no timber available. We'd turn around, and there would be timber made available to the small business. We'd ask again, and they'd say, "No, there's no timber," and then the woodlots would be established.
In one sentence you're saying…. It was said…. Not you. People like you were saying: "There's no timber available — sorry. Sorry, sorry." Again, it seems like just as we're getting to negotiate something, it would appear that there's a diminished opportunity for First Nations to participate in the forest economy, simply because there's less fibre.
I think there has to be a way of putting some priority on First Nations interests — legal interests, constitutionally protected interests — in this issue. Without that we are going to continue to be marginalized. I guess we couldn't say it's purposeful anymore, but certainly the circumstance would suggest that there is some purposeful…. The forces would be determining that we would be marginalized again in terms of accessing benefits from the forest resource.
We are certainly more than willing to negotiate. We have excellent relationships, the Simpcw people, up and down the North Thompson Valley, with all of the small towns and villages in the Robson Valley. We have agreements with those communities to work together to build a strong economy for the places that we mutually have interests in, in terms of where we live. So we are willing to do our part. We are willing to strategize. We're willing to look ahead. We are, I think, more proactive in terms of…. Well, we should be doing more research. That would be number one. We should make sure that…. We shouldn't be at….
We would say that this is sort of a late stage to be talking about what to do about the beetle situation. We've known this is going to happen for the last number of years, and finally the government has, somebody has, put their hand up and said that we should be doing something about this.
A 20 percent reduction in the next 50 years for annual allowable cuts. No matter how you look at it, there are going to be very extreme repercussions to economies, to cities, to towns, to workers, to companies. So it seems a bit late, because we're already feeling the impact. With the industrial, single-resource model that we've been using for the last number of years, that simply doesn't seem to work in this circumstance.
When the government took away the appurtenancy clause to their timber tenures, it was almost immediate. In our area when a mill burnt down, they took their insurance money, picked up their stuff and built, I think, in Alberta and are now shipping the timber from our valley out of the valley and benefiting some other communities. We can't begrudge that in so many ways, but how is it that people who live and work in a place can really benefit from the natural resources — in this case, the timber — that exists in the place that they live? It's a simple as that.
With the timber tenure system that we have, large corporations, some of them multinational, have no interest in the North Thompson and Robson valleys — none. They don't live there. They don't work there. Their corporate headquarters are nowhere close. They are there because they have an economic interest. When that interest is gone, they're going to be gone — period.
We are not going anywhere as First Nations people — certainly, the Simpcw people. We don't want to go anywhere. We will not go anywhere. Our life is there in the North Thompson and the Robson valleys. We will work as hard as we can with those that have an interest in providing a sustainable economy and lifestyle based on the resources in that area, as well as perhaps other things that we can think of.
Our suggestion would be to perhaps not move so quickly to start making decisions but perhaps take a better look at the kinds of resources that we have in our forests in terms of inventories, or even doing more research with how we can more closely utilize the wood that we have. The work that's been done in the pine beetle area has been very good in that regard.
Really, the closer utilization and the more creative use of the product, I think, is necessary. That idea of looking forward to that 50-year period and the kind of situation that we're going to be facing at that point, I think, is going to be important to do.
In terms of if it's going to be belt-tightening, I think First Nations could give you some lessons. We've been in belt-tightening mode for the last 200 years, and we've been making do with very little in a land of plenty. We have, I think, the means, the will, the capacity to participate in the planning that's necessary to see ourselves through this particular situation with regard to the reduced volumes of wood within our areas.
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With that, we look forward to…. I would trust that there's another venue for First Nations to more fulsomely express our issues in a government-to-government fashion rather than as a stakeholder. That is not a respectful way to deal with the relationship that we want to have with the province of B.C. [Secwepemctsin was spoken.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. Just to be clear, the discussions that are set up here with First Nations are not meant to be with stakeholders. It's like we're meeting with communities, we're meeting with First Nations, and then we're meeting with individuals. We had a number of meetings in Vancouver with stakeholders, as well, on a larger scale, from a provincial nature.
But certainly, this is meant to be a discussion, not consultation. Anything that would go beyond that, I suspect, would have other types of discussions that would have to be undertaken.
Thank you for that.
J. Pepper: Good afternoon. I'd like to thank the Chief for his welcome to the territory. My name is James Pepper. I work with the Okanagan Nation Alliance within the natural resource department. I'm not a chief, and I'm not a politician. I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not a decision-maker for the alliance. My presence here should not be misconstrued as consultation in any way. I do have a few comments to make, though.
First, the nation is disappointed by these drive-by engagement processes. They're inadequate and do not meet the standards defined by the courts — for example, Haida — nor the standards of the ONA. First Nations are not stakeholders; they're rights holders.
The AAC is likely to unjustifiably infringe on ONA aboriginal title and rights, as recently proven and upheld in the Chilcotin court case. Consultation should have been deep a long time ago, and it hasn't been. It's a little late in the game.
The Okanagan Nation does not agree with the AAC determination. The Nation does not agree with the provincial natural resource management practices. The ONA holds title and rights to 100 percent of the natural resources within Syilx territory. These rights have never been ceded.
Since time immemorial the Syilx people have lived on the land and managed natural resources within the territory. At the beginning the Creator charged the Syilx people with the responsibility to act as stewards of the land. The Syilx people have distinct and clear principles, practices and protocols that have been used to great effect to properly act as stewards of the land.
The Nation does not agree with harvesting timber from protected areas to provide for economic gain. The province does not have the jurisdiction within Syilx territory to determine how resources are utilized or managed.
Current logging practices are not sustainable and continue to have a wide variety of impacts throughout Syilx land. Areas set aside as riparian reserves and wildlife tree patches are insufficient to protect aboriginal rights.
No consideration is given to areas that need to be set aside and removed from the timber-harvesting land base to allow for the conservation of aboriginal rights. To be consistent with the new relationship commitments and honour of the Crown and ensure that the impact to aboriginal rights, both economic and cultural, is fully considered and protected, further consideration of the mid-term timber supply must involve First Nations, at the very least, as partners.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much.
D. Nordquist: Dave Nordquist, Adams Lake Band. It's always interesting, going last. You've got to scratch out lots of points.
Without restating a lot of what's gone before, I will try and focus in on some of the points that I had that didn't relate to what was already brought up.
Right now Adams Lake is engaged with the province in court cases over title and rights in the management of our landscape. We've also signed agreements with the province, and we have concerns around how these signed agreements will potentially be used against us when the results of this report get let out. Will we have to toe the line, so to speak, because we've signed these economic agreements?
What you are proposing here is potentially a wholesale change that's sort of been an academic exercise to date around forest management in B.C. It's been done in other jurisdictions, like New Zealand. I think it's been talked about here — moving from a volume- to an area-based licence, which we see potentially as having direct conflict with our rights to those same trees.
For example, an area-based tenure…. All of a sudden some company has got rights to those ten trees. "Well, we want those ten trees for forests." You've just given away a legal right that's now in conflict with our right to those same ten trees to build housing, for example.
Harvesting in OGMAs, protected areas. We don't see that as being a long-term solution. We're talking decades here. One of our concerns is: why are we trying to resolve in months something that's going to take 50, 60, 70 years to play out? Let's take a little more time at this process.
We have concerns around fertilizing. I don't know, but I haven't seen too many studies that show it to be economically feasible in the interior of British Columbia. And a lot of the enhancement projects you're talking about will occur upon the richest sites in our territories, which will be in direct conflict with what we want to do, because that's where we find our plants, for example, that we would use ourselves.
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We also wonder where the studies — this has been reiterated before — on the NSR areas are. Why haven't we seen an effort by the province to look at a lot of these stands that have gone from being stock to being NSR? We've only seen reduced funding being put forward to rehabilitate these sites back to trees, for example. I think Judy alluded to it. Where's the FRDA 3 to help us out here? This is a major catastrophe.
With this enhanced harvesting and with so many of the stands dead out there, who's going to speak for the animals? We've seen in the Columbia what happened when nobody spoke for the salmon. There are none. Is this going to happen in areas of our territory for species at risk, for example?
Where is the focus here on value-added? What can we do better with the…? We have a high-value timber product here in B.C. Why are we trying to go to a 2-by-4 model that a lot of the places in the world can produce faster and quicker? We have an opportunity, and we have product going out of this province…. I saw a product — $5,000 for 1,000. You won't get that out of this kind of business model.
I guess one of the questions you need to ask is: why not let the market and the industry go where it needs to go through market forces? Why not let industry downsize and deal with the cut that's there? You see, in the forest industry magazines, people saying: "Well, I just lost another operator. He can get twice as much going to the oil and gas industry." Are we trying to prop up an industry? We've got all these studies saying we need 17,000 workers in the mining industry and we need 30,000 in the oil and gas industry. Why are we trying to artificially keep people…?
How are you going to do that in an industry that's so cyclical? Right now it's been bottomed out for so long. How do you subsidize somebody's wage 100 percent to keep them in an excavator in a forest company as opposed to going to an oil and gas field and making 600 bucks a day?
If we're going to do a lot of these things, what's going to happen to the water with the fertilizers? What's that going to do to the plants? We've already got an impaired landscape in the Interior. We see all these floods out there. If we're going to level more of it, then the ability of the land to absorb the water is going to go down by that much more. Is that going to create even more catastrophic events than we're facing right now in the Interior?
You're talking about potentially going to an area-based tenure. Every time you add a right…. Before there was no right to the timber. It was first come, first served. Then it went to a volume-based licence. Now you talk about going to an area-based licence. That adds….
You gave away the economic value when you gave away those first licences. We had crew cabs leaving the reserve going to work in all these gyppo mills. Well, once you went to sustainable yield and said, "Okay," everybody gobbled each other up until you were left with the mills that were around at that time. Now you're talking about going to an area-based tenure.
Are the companies going to cough up some cash to pay for the added value of the timber that they're going to be able to harvest? Because that's going to be worth more. Are you just going to give that intrinsic worth from changing that licence from a volume to an area? Are you going to make them pay for that?
I doubt it. You're probably just going to give it to them. Then down the road, when somebody wants to buy them…. Well, that extra 50 bucks a metre — you've got to cough that up. You never paid for it in the first place, but no, you still have to cough it up.
I think that probably concludes my remarks, outside of this process. It needs more time. I mean, I only had a couple of days to prepare for this. That's not enough time. We should have all sat down and had a presentation here properly. Kukwstsétsemc.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Dave.
Would anybody else like to add some comments?
Questions or comments from members?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Thank you very much for the presentation. As MLA Rustad said, this was in no way intended as a proper consultation or anything like that, but the information you've provided is critically important. We are looking, within the terms of reference, at things like land use plans and, as you mentioned, area-based tenures — whether those are improvements.
I guess the question is: with Nations not involved in the treaty process, can you give us a sense of how you would participate, if there was a serious discussion, about moving to area-based tenures? There's no question that it impacts the rights that you have. So how does that work currently, or how would it work? Can you give us an idea of the level of involvement now? Are Nations involved when cutblocks are set and so on?
Maybe a sense of what exists now and, if any of the things that the committee contemplates were to go ahead, what sort of processes would you see as being appropriate. Or would that all have to be thought through before anything could really be done?
N. Matthew: I think in an appropriate consultation that it would be providing notice from the province's perspective that you're contemplating change in tenure opportunities in the forestry area, and give some rationale for that. Invite First Nations to come in and have some discussion and then be able to sit down and decide on: what is the consultation, and what are the consequences of that consultation? Is it just going to be input, or is there going to be some real discussion?
I think that in the terms of reference for a lot of the relationship to date…. Right now we're given templates for allocation of benefits through the forest resource. So they say: "Well, we're going to give you X percent. That's it." No discussion, none. That's not consultation. That's something else. It's nasty.
It really requires sitting down and having a fulsome discussion about the issue first and how the relationship and the consultation are to be conducted. There seems to be some fear that by dealing with First Nations, the government is going to have to give up too much. Well, no. If we have rights, there's got to be some way to accommodate those rights in an open way, not that somehow you talk to us and go behind a door and say: "Okay, now you've got 3½ percent, and that's it. No discussion." No discussion, and that's the way it is. That is not respectful.
I think there has to be some discussion about the issue initially and maybe contemplation about how we got to this place in the first place — right? How can we change the relationship? That's the big thing in my mind, because there still seems to be a whole lot of fear around First Nations.
We are more than willing to work hard to make sure that we leave the world that we live in, in a better place than when we found it, and that the benefits that we have can be shared. We don't have that sense of the corporate model where a winner takes all and that we all have to consolidate until there's only one monopoly. We're all here. We're going to stay here.
I think there's a level of respect that has to be put in there right at the first instance, and that, to my sense, is not there right now. But I think with the consultation with First Nations, if given notice — invite some discussion; we have our political representation — we'd be more than willing to sit down.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I take the point on the need for better forest inventory, the need for better silviculture, the need for better utilization. But just coming back again to the consultation piece, if a community forest is set up, for instance…. What was the experience with setting up a community forest? How were First Nations involved in the process? I'm presuming that there was experience with this. Was it adequate, or is there still a tremendous amount of work to be done with any of these sorts of processes?
J. Pepper: I would say that one of the issues is that you need to start working together at the beginning of the process. Whenever I've been involved when the plan is just getting started, that's a partnership. Instead of you guys writing a book and giving it to someone for comments, you write the book together — right? That seems to be much more effective.
The other thing, too, is that there's this tremendous resource that First Nations have in their knowledge and completely different world view to engaging in natural resource management, and too often I see it missed. The engagement isn't there. It becomes consultation at the end of a process, which never works properly. And if you start from scratch at the base level and you build it together, well, it's going to be that much more robust and that much stronger and lasting as a process.
So I just wanted to make that comment that it's really important to start at the beginning. You know, one of the issues that the ONA had with this meeting — and I recognize that it's not consultation and whatnot — is that the Nations should have been engaged a long time ago when the AAC allocations and other processes were being discussed, not at the end when there's already a plan in place. That's just disrespectful. The Nations hold title and rights to the land, and they need to be treated with respect for that.
N. Matthew: The community forest issue. It's very marginal. There are very small volumes. It's an afterthought beyond that larger, industrial approach to forest management. In the big discussion, I mean, the big players are the big companies. They're the ones that have all the volumes, and they're the ones that have the political muscle, or the ear of the political muscle, to facilitate changes. It has gone, I think, to the point where the industrial model is really the only thing that's looked at, and that's what's being accommodated here. The communities really aren't being accommodated, or else you'd put appurtenancy back on the table.
B.C. Timber Sales was put together to accommodate the softwood trade agreement, to make sure that market forces were in play. But what are we doing to make sure that our community market forces, economic forces, are being accommodated through the use of the timber that we have? Like, can we set aside timber for that? On those kinds of things — doing the studying, doing the research — we don't seem to have done enough of that to be knowledgable about the situation that's facing us.
It seems that we just have big corporations wringing their hands, saying: "We can't do business into the future the way we have." Of course you can't, unless you take every stick of timber in the next 50 years, and there won't be anything. You let the other values slide in order to accommodate big business.
There has got to be some sort of accommodation to communities, a diversified economy and a real, serious look at what we're doing with the environment. I think that's where the big compromise is right now, where there are huge clearcuts and just nothing is the way it was for the last thousands of years, where the environment sort of accommodated change in a very slow fashion. In the last 20 years it's been pretty dramatic.
I think for the communities, First Nations, taking a look at how we can be included in meaningful ways
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is really something that should be taken seriously. The model that we have certainly doesn't address the issues that we're facing in our communities, in our valleys, in our rural areas.
B. Stewart: First off, I want to just talk about the differences we've heard. This is the last community out of probably about 20 or more that we've listened to, and part of the reason for the urgency around this committee discussing this is because of two separate communities losing mills. Essentially, fibre certainty is a big factor in making those types of investments.
The one that you certainly know about is Burns Lake, where Burns Lake tribal First Nations have an investment, not just in the mill at Hampton, where they are shareholders, but they also have several other businesses as well as, in fact, a part of the community forest. So they're very actively engaged in the outcome of what this means to their community.
One of the things that we're attempting to try and do is to find some new ideas, if there are any, out there, and the committee is really charged with listening to what people are saying in the communities. We've heard, certainly, what you've said today. One of the things we hear a lot about is value-add, but I think there is an opportunity. Certainly, from what I know about some of the First Nations in the area, they work very cooperatively together. I've been very impressed with some of the activities.
But in this one it doesn't seem like anybody has really developed a partnership where there is a real stake in ownership, as you referred to in your remarks, Nathan. I think that we do want to see value-add. We want to see the highest and best use of fibre. We want to hear from you as to what you see as those solutions. That's what we're trying to accomplish.
The report is really to kind of look at the picture the way it is today, after over ten years of what we all know as, I think you called it, beetlemania. I thought that that was appropriate. I hadn't heard that comment before. I think it's important that we do kind of hear about your ideas and how we get your involvement.
In places like Burns Lake, First Nations there are a hugely important part of the stability of that community, as they are in many others. They don't necessarily…. I mean, they live in that community. Generations are there. It's a big part of utilizing the resources in an appropriate manner. Where we are today, whether we've had…. We probably have our differences in terms of how the resources have been, perhaps, allocated since inception.
However, I think you'd have to agree — I heard some of the comments — that the process the government has started in the new relationship, the discussion around the treaty table with certain bands, has been much more proactive in trying to find meaningful solutions about strategic engagement agreements and those other opportunities that we're trying to find.
I'd ask, on fibre supply, if you have any thoughts about things that have been overlooked. I mean, we do hear about the constrained areas. Certainly, value-add…. We are very interested in making certain that every stick of fibre is well utilized.
I think that some of the First Nations that we've…. You know, they have their own reman plants, and they're partners in pellet mills. They're fully engaged, because this is part of the economy that supports their community. I don't know if you want to start off, Nathan, because of your beetlemania comment. I'd hope that we can kind of learn something today from you.
N. Matthew: It's really notable, when you drive up into the forested areas in the fall time, the amount of fibre that is burnt. That seems to be a sin. We're letting it happen. I don't know what the volume…. Somebody probably can calculate it. What are we doing? We just pile it up and torch it. Somebody should be doing some sort of research on what we can do with that stuff.
I think that everybody is concerned about closer utilization. Maybe we should be sharing the work that's being done in various areas to utilize smaller pieces, piece sizes, and the other species — the hardwood, the birch, the poplar, the aspen — those types of wood.
There is a world economy out there for that kind of thing, and maybe there should be incentives put out to work in those areas. I know it always hasn't worked out. A lot of things have been tried, but you don't seem to see a place where you can just go and say: "Yeah, these things seems to be working, and maybe it's something that we could pull together."
I know in our area there is a bit of a tug-of-war with regard to the beetle-killed wood in terms of the pellet plants. We can't seem to get together enough volume to make a pellet plant viable economically. You need a certain volume of wood.
If we could have assembled a viable amount of beetle-killed wood for pellet plant use, we'd probably have a pellet plant in Barriere right now. We just haven't been able to do that because of all of the competing interests. That's one thing. They do have pellet plants up there, and of course, they probably have a lot more beetle-killed wood too. They have had a lot more timber to deal with.
I think in a few years…. I don't know the sustainability of pellet plants in terms of just maintaining access to volumes of appropriate fibre for them. It would be good to share information around…. Pellet plants just being one of them. They are a potential for utilizing all of those piles of residue that are left out in the bush. Certainly, the economy, like commercial recreation, sports recreation….
You know, there are other uses to the land base that are economically sustainable. People like to go into wilderness areas. They don't want to go into clearcuts. You
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don't have to do much there except to make sure that the timber continues to be there and that the wild areas are there for people to enjoy. They'll come from all over the world to do that. This is nothing new. I think there should be way of sitting down and doing some larger-scale planning for these areas.
J. Pepper: That would be my response to that question too. What I was mentioning earlier is: come see the Syilx people. They have been managing their lands since time immemorial — forever, thousands of years. There are lots and lots of ideas there, and it's so worthwhile to just come sit down. This process is to have those sorts of discussions and work together to move forward to the future.
D. Nordquist: Yeah, I think we're sitting at a crossroads here. We're looking at this beetle epidemic, or beetlemania, as a problem. We should be looking at it as an opportunity to change the way we're doing things. It's such a catastrophic event that people would be willing to change policy or laws or do a lot of different things and take a different direction with the way we do things.
Or maybe we take the same direction. But I think we have an opportunity here to do things different than the way we've been doing them — to include First Nations, to manage the land in a more respectful way. There's a lot of things we could do here. To me, anything's on the table. It's such an opportunity at this point in time, with the 20 percent downcut, to change everything about the way we do forestry in B.C.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I thought that it was very well done and articulate in terms of presenting your point of view.
I do want to add that our committee has not been struck to deal with these matters. However, I completely understand why it is that throughout B.C., First Nations come forward and point out that these unresolved issues exist, whether it's with the federal or provincial government bodies that are ultimately responsible for negotiating fair and equitable settlements to outstanding issues. It's still very long overdue, and it is frustrating to a lot of us to see these things arrive over and over again.
I have to tell you that I don't feel very comfortable sitting here, because somehow, you almost feel responsible and wish that you could actually do something to fix some of the outstanding issues that you have. It is far above what we're capable of doing, but we certainly will be, in conveying the information, including all of what we're hearing from First Nations all over British Columbia.
Cowichan First Nations, I’m sure, would ask that I send greetings, but I would also add what I heard about Burns Lake. There was a very different tone in the conversation because they talked about the fact….
They did talk about outstanding treaty issues and the fact that they had not been included in some of the land use decisions. Actually, they were appealing on behalf of six bands for some rights, partly because they have, I think they said, 66 people with jobs in the forest industry in that region and, as you presented, they were not going anywhere. They're not moving down the road like some corporations or industry does, and there needs to be a way to resolve that.
I guess, given the circumstances that we're trying to deal with — which is, in a broader context, trying to deal with a whole bunch of forest communities, but Burns Lake is very much on my mind, as I'm sure it is with other committee members — what can we do that still respects land use planning and the community values that we've heard presented over and over again and, at the same time, tries to accommodate some of the clear values that we've heard, again, from communities all over B.C. — the need to tie communities to the land and to jobs and work opportunities within their land?
So I guess I'm wondering: while there are always going to be these outstanding issues that…. As I say, I wish we here were capable of dealing with some of those issues, but we're not, and that's not our task, pretty clearly. So in terms of partnerships that you may have…. I'd be interested. Is there any good news?
I do want to tell you and share that this committee has heard good news around B.C. For example, First Nations partnerships in Mackenzie. There's an agreement there working very well. We did hear reports of good things going on there. I'm wondering: has there been any success in any of your groups in terms of agreements for tree planting? Has there been anything to do with value-added? Have you had a community forest?
Are there any successes whatsoever that we can talk about in relation to this matter, and do you have suggestions for other connections for work opportunities? In Merritt we heard about other kinds of values being included in forest licences.
N. Matthew: Just in the Simpcw First Nation in Chu Chua, a number of years ago we got a cedar-hemlock licence in a very tough area to work with, and we were very successful. It employed people in our community.
We worked in partnership with Gilbert Smith, and we got the support of all of the other corporations in the valley to allow us to do that. Otherwise, there would have been a competition for it, so there was recognition and a great deal of respect with regard to our initial participation in holding a licence. We were successful in that, and we were also successful in renegotiating that licence into another period. We continue to have a very close, mutually beneficial relationship with Gilbert Smith Forest Products in Barriere, without which, I think, both communities would be worse off.
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After the big fires we had a number of relationships, and we were able to flow through 100,000 cubic metres of tenure wood to the local community forest. That's how we were able to get going.
We've been working with community forests in Clearwater and the Robson Valley, and we're just now, I think, harvesting our first little bit of wood. I mean, it's just so small, it's hard to even think about it as being significant, but it is. We're employing a few people doing the planning, and we're cutting it down, and we've got a little harvesting going, and sales. So there's a little bit of light and life there.
We have full-time contractors that have their own companies and that are Simpcw First Nation members. We've got many people working in the Gilbert Smith mill, in their operations. We've got logging truck drivers. We've got a large dependency on the forest sector, and we have a lot of capacity. In terms of management, we have a corporation that's been in place now for a number of years. We've operated a sawmill successfully for a period of time, but because of tenure issues, I believe, we weren't able to carry on.
We've got a lot of experience, and we have a lot of confidence in moving and in negotiating within the bounds of the rules that are set before us. It's just that those rules are fairly restrictive. We do have capacity, and we look forward to dealing with timber issues. That's something that we look forward to, and we're planning on doing that in conjunction with the municipalities, the villages and the corporations in our areas. We trade timber and sell timber round and about. It's something that we're quite knowledgable about. We've benefited from access to timber in the last 15, 20 years.
J. Rustad (Chair): I want to thank you very much for taking some time today and for having this discussion with us as a committee. It was much appreciated.
The committee is going to take a recess until 6:45.
The committee recessed from 6:09 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Good evening, everyone, and welcome back to our Special Committee on Timber Supply. I just want to remind everybody that if you haven't had an opportunity to present tonight or if you wanted to add anything additional to what you've said tonight, there's an opportunity to give us information in a written format until July 20. That can be found through our website at www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee.
With that, we'll start again with our public consultation session. This session is 15 minutes for each presenter. You can use that time as you'd like. We usually try to recommend to give us some time for questions and answers at the end, if you can.
Our first presenter is the Caverhill Lodge — Larry Loney, is it?
L. Loney: You got it.
J. Rustad (Chair): Welcome, Larry.
L. Loney: Thank you.
You had some pretty good speakers here. Now you've got me. Too bad.
As they say, thank you for having me here. My name is Larry Loney, Caverhill Lodge. My wife and I have been the owners for the past 24 years. Caverhill Lodge was established in 1947, and it has continued for 65 years to offer a unique wilderness experience to travellers from around the world.
Our facility offers fishing for native-strain rainbow trout in 15 lakes located on Crown land in a pristine environment. Our guests hike woodland trails to access the lakes and enjoy settings of animals and mountain flowers. While the fishing is the reason they are attracted, it is the pristine landscape that makes them book a stay at our lodge and return for many years.
I would question the viability of a lodge located in the centre of a clearcut. It is super, natural British Columbia that is the core of our tourism industry.
I would like to start with a comment on the timing of this timber review. It has been scheduled at a time when wilderness tourism operators are in peak season. In increasingly tough economic times for tourism, we are all scrambling to make a living. Few of us have administrative assistants to handle extra paperwork.
Your board will not be able to collect a fair representation of the level of concern because of the timing of your meetings. In presenting today, one-third of our staff is at this meeting while our guests are being underserved. And these meetings have not been well publicized.
In our 24 years of business, we have often met with the Ministry of Forests and many timber-harvesting companies to create a plan that was sustainable for all resource users. At an elevation of 4,600 feet, the growing season is short and the trees take a long time to reach a marketable size. There was no real will to log our area as there was plenty more easily accessible timber.
Just as the commercial fishing industry was forced to take smaller and smaller fish as their resource collapsed, the timber industry is now looking at the smaller trees in our area. In these past meetings most of our area was deemed to have very high VQO ratings due to the tourism, recreation and environmental values. These important values have not changed.
Surely, these values are worth more than 25 cents per cubic metre for salvage. The guiding values and principles of a timber review should be sustainability, economic diversity and environmental legacy.
The guiding value of the sustainability of the timber in-
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dustry — with long-term strategies and restructuring to the new reality of a reduced timber supply. It is time for the timber industry to make significant modifications to the way it works and for communities to find new ways to survive the changes. Increasing extraction is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. When the commercial fishing industry collapsed, did we see nets at the Vancouver Aquarium?
The guiding value of the sustainability of the wilderness and tourism industries and a diverse ecological landscape for the future. Once a natural forest has been removed, it can never be replaced. The damage of one industry to the benefit of another is a zero net gain.
Wilderness tourism works in conjunction with the protected environment and can continue indefinitely, providing long-term economic opportunities. Clearcuts visible from space are not a legacy to be proud of, nor to be branded the Brazil of the north because of the rapid deforestation.
Decisions regarding the actions should be made involving all stakeholders at a regional level and include government representation from environment and tourism departments. There are many expert government department heads that could lend a balanced view to this process and offer expert advice — not like mine.
We urge you to consult with your own people. We recommend a return to the meetings with liaisons from government and timber industry, native bands and all recreation stakeholders. These meeting kept everyone aware of changes in forest practices.
The land and resource management plans are high-quality plans that involved all stakeholders, with years of consultation and consideration. We believed in the value and integrity of these plans and are stunned to discover they are no longer legal guidelines for some timber companies. We believe these plans should be the starting point for any changes and that the changes should be made case by case with all parties represented.
Every area is unique and requires individual input. Some areas may benefit from more logging, and some wilderness operators may welcome a reduction of pine beetle–infected wood. We see a dead natural forest as having a significant value worth protecting. We can sell a naturally dying forest, but we cannot sell a clearcut. The sound of heavy equipment is not the sound that our guests come to hear, nor do they enjoy driving through a clearcut with huge piles of slash timber to a small island of trees. "Super, natural B.C." is a brand worth protecting.
The Kamloops land and resource management plan was a complex process that did great work, involving all stakeholders. The rating of lakes and establishing of visual-quality objectives was done carefully, with everyone getting a little and giving a little. We urge you to go back to that plan and stick with the sound, unbiased work that had been done. In our area the Weyerhaeuser forest stewardship plan has already watered down the objectives and tossed aside the rules when a 35 percent salvage operation can be claimed.
West Fraser has continued to consider other stakeholders. However, they are in no legal way obligated to do so. The government of B.C. has given control to the private sector and is leaving our forests unprotected. The professional reliance model leaves the forest unprotected from economic pressures as there are no enforceable laws regarding harvesting. Clear rules as stated in the LRMP regarding visual-quality objectives enable companies to apply the professional standards effectively. Without the rules, harvesting is always in a potential conflict position.
While the past prescriptive process may have been cumbersome, it was clear, and we all knew what was going on. In preparing for this meeting, almost everyone I spoke with was not aware of the changes regarding salvage and LRMP guidelines in the Weyerhaeuser FSP.
There have always been beetles in our forests, and will be again. But that is not an acceptable reason to destroy the landscape. A 35 percent salvage requirement has allowed the removal of 65 percent of other marketable timber without needing to adhere to LRMP guidelines and at a reduced stumpage rate. It seems the lake is being drained because of an oil spill.
It takes a hundred years to grow a marketable tree. Less than 1 percent of the landscape should be cut on an annual basis in order to be sustainable. One does not have to look far to see this is not the way our forests are being harvested and to realize that there'll be no forests to feed the mill in 20 years, and there'll be no tourist industry to offset the job losses.
For a block to be considered salvage, it should be 90 percent pine so that there's other timber available for the years after the pine has gone. There's a false impression that there's lots of available timber.
We urge the committee to look out the window as they fly to these meetings. In our area we are confident the results will show that the harvesting is not sustainable. Before any changes should be considered, a full timber inventory must be completed.
We ask that you look to history and the destruction of past forests in B.C. and around the world, and stop and consider that your actions irreversibly affect the world we live in. Tough choices are never popular, but the value of a standing tree has never been greater. We as a society are finally seeing the value of protecting the forest and harvesting it wisely.
To summarize, we feel communities heavily reliant on the timber industry need to diversify now. The government needs to recognize that it does not own the forest but is charged with a responsibility to harvest and protect it for future generations. Abdicating responsibility to the private sector is unacceptable.
There should be a return to clearly written laws. The
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land and resource management plan should be reinstated as law in forest stewardship plans, and any changes from that point forward should renew the full consultative process with all resource users. Short-term financial gain with increased logging is exactly that: short-term and shortsighted.
Thank you for allowing me this time.
J. Rustad (Chair): Larry, thank you very much.
I look to questions from members.
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. I know how important these visual-quality objectives are to you and to many tourism operators. We've heard, loud and clear, from everywhere that I've been: leave them alone. I also think that from where I come, the land use plans are very important and very valuable.
I have heard, and I think others have heard from time to time, that the public would like regional resource boards where they were years ago put in place under the ministry. They would like to see those back in place again. So your opinion is that that would be a recommendation that we should take back to government?
L. Loney: Definitely, yes. I think that was very useful for everybody.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I take your point on the inventory and the need for more inventory, the need to consult and respect the work that's been done. As MLA Barnett is saying, we've heard it a lot that people want to re-engage and to keep continued discussions on land use decisions.
I'm a bit interested about the salvage that you've talked about here. Did I hear you correctly — that if a stand had 35 percent dead pine, it was being harvested…?
L. Loney: As salvage.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): As salvage. So the full block…?
L. Loney: The whole full block…
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): …was minimum stumpage.
L. Loney: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Based on 35 percent?
L. Loney: Yes, 35 percent. That's right from forestry head office. A lot of that is just stacked to be burned.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So the pine that actually was…?
L. Loney: The salvage that they got in there in the first place is now just piled up basically to be burned, and all the good wood is stacked on the other side to be hauled out.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. And these are areas that previously would have had a degree of protection under agreements through land use — at times; not always, necessarily, but at times.
L. Loney: Years ago we did several years of classifying all the lakes — A, B, C, D. The A lakes had no visible logging whatsoever on any hillside, no logging within a quarter mile. At a B lake you could have a break in the crown.
Where we live, on the Home Lake, Caverhill, it's a B lake, and they came over the crest and down towards the road. That was a mistake on both of our sides, because we didn't know the rules had changed, and they didn't see to tell us that the rules had changed — that they could do that. They can log legally now right to the lakeshore. But they are a very good company to work with, and they're doing their best to keep us happy as well as getting their timber out.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Larry, for your presentation today.
Our next presenter is the Backcountry Lodges of B.C. Association.
Brad, welcome. Over to you.
B. Harrison: Over to me. I represent the Backcountry Lodges of B.C. We're pleased to have this opportunity to provide input into your deliberations. We were disappointed to see that tourism wasn't specified in your committee's terms of reference, despite the fact that tourism is an important stakeholder in forestry and land use management.
According to MJTI's report The Value of Tourism in B.C.: Trends from 2000 to 2010, tourism generated $13.4 billion in revenues to the province, and $3.2 billion of that was export revenue.
Tourism contributed $6.5 million to B.C.'s GDP. This is in stark contract to forestry's GDP contribution of $2.5 million. As well, according to the same report, tourism was the only primary industry to have maintained steady growth in real GDP between 2003 and 2008. In 2010 the real GDP of the agricultural and forest industries was actually below 2002 levels.
Despite this, the committee's terms of reference reflect a more timber-centric than inclusive viewpoint. The difference in viewpoint is commonly evident between the forest products and tourism sectors. Whereas the forest product sector values the vertical board feet of a tree, nature-based tourism operators value the tree — the
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branches, the spaces between those trees and all they contain.
We rely on those spaces to sell clients experiences within the forested and unforested habitats that support B.C.'s unique ecosystem. Our visitors travel to destinations in the province to experience the richness that is offered in that place — viewscapes, smells, sounds, and the look and feel of the place. This is what keeps our clients coming back for more, and it attracts new ones as well.
In our opinion, the committee's mandate to deal with the short-term timber supply challenge with a timber-centric viewpoint can irreparably harm a promising, sustainable economic sector.
Our BLBCA members have a right to be consulted. All of our members hold tenure on Crown land under the AT policy. Many of these operators have been on Crown land for decades. Others were convinced to get into the tent by following a suggested path and getting what at the time was called a commercial recreation tenure. One of the carrots waved by the joint steering committee, of which I was a member, was that operators would have a say at the table in land use planning. Yet your own TOR makes no mention of that.
So who are our clients? Who are our visitors? In 2010, based on the most recent report from MJTI, over 53 percent of our overnight visitors in B.C. were from B.C. That means that residents from Vancouver travel to the Okanagan and Thompson regions to seek pristine ski powder and our lodges. B.C. residents from northern B.C. and Vancouver Island travel in order to experience unique mountaineering opportunities in the Kootenay regions, and/or they travel from Kamloops, Victoria or Chilliwack to experience hiking, biking and riding experiences in the Chilcotin.
The next largest market we have is "other Canada." Nineteen percent of our visitors come from Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario to experience these same opportunities in the winter and summer seasons.
The rest of our market came from the U.S. — about 19 percent — and 9 percent from Asia-Pacific, Europe and other overseas markets. Wherever they come from, our visitors expect to find a high-quality, natural and cultural environment and experience a sense of B.C.'s wilderness.
They expect this because that is what our brand, "Super, natural B.C.," tells them they'll get. The province has invested over $500 million in this brand over the past 15-plus years. This brand works to secure global tourism market share in a very tough, competitive environment. The Canadian Tourism Commission supports B.C.'s brand in their marketing material as well. I don't have any actual figures for that.
Our BLBCA members work hard to deliver B.C.'s "Super, natural B.C." brand promise. These tourism operators try to maximize the potential of our brand by matching guests' expectations with their actual experiences. Many operators enhance that brand by setting self-imposed high standards of environmental operating quality, as evidenced by the number of operators holding a green certification with organizations such as Green Canada, U.K. or the green keys.
Many follow the International Ecotourism Society's principals for sustainability and are recognized by industry for their efforts. Some of our operators are recognized as signature experience providers by the CTC.
As you can imagine, then, any changes in forest management tools, such as visual-quality objectives, old-growth management areas, and ungulate winter ranges will, most certainly, negatively and directly impact our members.
Like other sectors of B.C.'s resource economy — tourism, agriculture, fish, forests, energy, minerals — tourism, too, relies on gaining access to the use of B.C.'s Crown lands. Government's tourism strategy, Gaining the Edge: A Five-year Strategy for Tourism in B.C. - 2012-2016, recognizes that outdoor adventure experiences in pristine natural settings epitomize the B.C. tourism experience and are intrinsic to the "Super, natural B.C." brand.
Unlike the other resource sectors, the purchasers of tourism products must be here to consume them. Our products can not be stored for a better economic climate, for more beneficial government policy. The use and purchase of a tourism experience is immediate. We have that time and place only to sell a tourism experience. As well, the tourism product can only be supplied and used at source. This is quite different from a wood, mineral, food or energy product, which is supplied to one place and consumed elsewhere.
The tourist. A tourist, the purchaser of our product, is here on the ground taking in how well we operate and seeing firsthand what our province, region, community and operating area look like as they travel through the province to their destination.
Our tourist experience: the good, bad and the ugly in our natural environment. I feel it's our job to help minimize the latter two. In order for our members' businesses to survive and thrive, we must repeatedly, over the course of every visit, over every operating season and forever into the future, deliver B.C.'s brand promise: "Super, natural B.C."
In order to support an operating environment which provides opportunities for the tourism sector to thrive, BLBC members must have a history of working with regional stakeholders, our Crown land neighbours, with other organizations and with government. Tourism operators have been engaged at the table right from the first land use planning process undertaken in this province — CCLUP and the Vancouver Island. They've all sat since, at every table across the province, as subsequent LRMPs and other subregional plans were developed.
Our members have been part of tourism discussions in all the beetle action coalitions — Omineca,
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Cariboo-Chilcotin and the southern Interior. As you know, government has provided significant funds to these processes. All of the BAC tourism-related strategies have addressed land use issues. For example, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition identified the following goals in their tourism strategy: to provide greater certainty for operators and encourage increased investment; to mitigate the impacts to tourism resulting from MPB infestation and its management.
One of OBAC's recommendations is to address the land and resource information planning and policy issues to increase certainty for tourism operators and potential investors. Included in that recommendation is the goal to implement initiatives to mitigate the impacts of MPB and general forest management activities on nature-based tourism, including using as one possible tool the establishment of conservation areas.
We are always working with our neighbours, other overlapping Crown land tenure holders to find acceptable ways to share the Crown land in a way that mutually benefits, or at least minimizes damages to our tourism businesses and the communities where operations are based. We know how to share Crown land with our neighbours. Being hospitable is an essential part of our business.
The BLBC has worked with other tourism organizations, such as the WTA and TIABC to resolve land use issues. We have been part of negotiations in the subsequent MOUs developed with agencies such as COFI and the B.C.-Yukon mining association.
We have worked with government and other organizations to provide input and give direction on government policy, such as the draft ORV legislation and the natural resource roads act. We have been at the table engaged in these discussions consistently. Our members have given thousands of hours of their personal time to help set up land use management goals and objectives, including those for VQOs and OGMAs.
We would like to be involved in some meaningful way in any timber supply management decision that impacts our members' businesses. It's unfortunate that these public meetings are being held during the busiest season for many of our operators.
Tourism needs, at a minimum, adherence to those forestry land use objectives in order to continue to be viable businesses. Actually, we need more than we actually have now, not less, as proposed. In the BLBCA's opinion, any proposal by the Special Committee on Timber Supply to remove constraints such as OGMAs and VQOs seems to be in contradiction to the adopted goals and objectives that have been made through these various processes that encourage more diverse use of our natural resources.
FRPA defined OGMAs and VQOs as values rather than timber supply constraints. The public impression over the years was that forestry would be managed along with the other values, not instead of them.
Adherence to identified existing management tools creates an environment that enables BLBCA members to offer high-quality wilderness tourism products that are well regarded worldwide. The success of these back-country operations does, in turn, support rural economies by diversifying and providing more resiliency to their economies.
Gaining the Edge: A Five-year Strategy, developed by the MJTI, recognized that many of the defining elements of "Super, natural B.C." are found throughout rural B.C. In fact, images on the cover and inside the document highlight world-class visitor experiences that may have been provided by one of our members.
The plan identifies that touring vacations, outdoor ecotourism, aboriginal tourism, downhill skiing and snowboarding are the priority products that define B.C.'s competitive advantage. Many of these products are supplied by our members.
The BLBCA asks that government preserve and even enhance our VQOs, OGMAs, riparian areas and other forestry management tools. It allows us to offer tourism product of unmatched quality. It is what truly makes British Columbia super, natural, and it helped to lead a tourism industry rebound in 2010.
Undertake a full and thorough cost-benefit analysis before any permanent decisions are reached. This analysis should take into consideration the often non-priced characteristics of many natural resources. Any study based solely on market-based input may not yield a return in a commercial sense on the true value of the natural resource. We would urge an analysis which considers the total economic value of our forests and land resource on a long-term basis.
Just a short personal segue. My father was a horse packer in the Kootenays. He had a hunting area from 1929 to '74 — so obviously, a viable business. Some of you who are in the forest industry will have heard of the Crozier Valley. In two summers — basically, in 12 months — of logging, his business was shut. It was finished. So I just would urge you to make sure that that doesn't happen to our current, viable, nature-based tourism operators.
Thanks for the time to speak.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much.
Questions from members?
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. I really and truly appreciate and understand your concern.
I have one question. Should there be another infestation of another type of disease — spruce budworm, fir bark beetle, whatever — would you have an issue with selective logging in some of these old-growth management areas or some of these visual-quality areas if we had to go
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in there and selectively log to cure the health of this disease and take the health of the forest into consideration?
B. Harrison: Donna, you have the tough ones. You ask the tough questions. I guess if it was done in a responsible manner and all parties were included in the management plan of that, I would have to say yes.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks. If we can keep the other questions and answers as short, we've got two more questions.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I wondered about fire concerns of your association with regard to the pine beetle. Do you have any of your lodges that have concerns about fire interface issues?
B. Harrison: I haven't heard of any. Nobody's brought anything forward to me.
B. Stewart: Thanks, Brad. I can't help but think about the inherent kind of polarization between what your product is and what we're here to talk about.
I didn't really hear you talk about how we can do this in a sustainable way. We talked a bit about the constraints. I'm getting the impression that…. I'm not even certain we can work within the constraints, based on what you presented. Is that your opinion? Is what's happening adequate and acceptable today?
B. Harrison: I'm not sure what your question is exactly. Sorry.
B. Stewart: I'm just thinking that Backcountry Lodges are obviously at odds with logging in their backyard because, of course, it's not part of "Super, natural B.C.," if you look at it from their perspective.
I guess my point about it is…. We're really looking at the issues that have been pointed out about the mountain pine beetle — the fact that we've got 18 million hectares that have been affected by it. There has been an accelerated cut, but the bottom line is: where do we go from here?
We can drop the annual cut and close…. I mean, it's going to drop. That's the bottom line. We're just looking at other fibre opportunities. We're hoping that people like yourself can bring some ideas about some solutions rather than…. We know that there's that conflict.
B. Harrison: Yeah, I guess it might require a large change, and perhaps we can look at not mining our forests and farming our forests — might help. That would be one way.
If you selectively log…. I am not a logger, so I'm definitely speaking out of turn, but if you selectively log some place, your impact on the VQO is going to be far less. If you just clearcut it and leave stuff laying all over the place, the impact is going to be fairly significant.
I definitely think that if everybody has input…. I use lumber. I've built a house. So we all realize that we need lumber. It's just how we extract it, I think, is the main thing.
J. Rustad (Chair): Brad, thank you very much for your presentation.
The next presenter is the B.C. Cattlemen's Association.
D. Haywood-Farmer: It sounds like you guys have had quite a full day already with Merritt and now ending in Kamloops.
A Voice: It's been a long ride.
D. Haywood-Farmer: Yeah. I'm Dave Haywood-Farmer. I'm the new president of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association. Our office is in Kamloops here, and we have a great staff that tries to keep us cowboys all in line and whatnot. They have troubles, but they get 'er done.
Anyway, the B.C. Cattlemen's Association has been the official voice of the ranchers throughout British Columbia since 1929. For more than 80 years the association, whose membership is close to 1,200 ranchers, has represented the interests of the B.C. cattle producers in the province of B.C. The BCCA membership represents approximately 72 percent of the provincial cattle herds.
The B.C. cattle industry has a direct economic impact of over $606 million annually, based on 2010 data. The B.C. Cattlemen has other impacts that cannot be easily valued. One of the inputs is grazing the grass fuels around growing stands of timber. It reduces a lot of fire threat.
For our presentation, what we've done is we've focused on the five questions asked by the committee, and we've followed that framework.
"What values and principles should guide the evolution and decision-making regarding the potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impact?" The point we want to bring forward here is that there are many other authorized tenure holders utilizing the same land base as the forest industry: the guide-outfitters, ranchers, trappers, water licence holders and tourism interests.
Any decision regarding the mitigation of timber supply must respect other authorized tenure holders. Mitigating the impact of timber shortage must not be at the expense of other authorized tenure holders. Always strive for a win-win solution, such as developing a coordinated forage plan in conjunction with timber plans.
My comment here is that in a timber supply area there are many stock ranges. The stock range is what our ranches use as their areas for management. Our ranches have been set up as sustainable units for many, many years to balance our needs. A lot of those stock ranges have a heavy percent of dead pine on them because of the awful
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effects of the mountain pine beetle.
My concern is that right now we have a fairly good supply of grass, because a lot of the timber has either been harvested or the dead timber is still standing, and there's a good grass value below it. My concern is that if we go into these areas and reforest to get our AAC back, and we replant all of those areas, we're going to get major forest canopy closure. When we get those closures, I'm concerned that my members aren't going to have the availability of forage that they need to keep their sustainable ranches going, which they have been for many, many years.
We must have a forage plan to alleviate those costs, and I would like to see a movement where we're replanting a lot of the corridors — roads, access areas to the blocks, which are probably not going to be reforested — to heavier certified domestic grass mixes that not only offset the noxious weed, but they also give my cattle more feed value once we get a strong stand of pine coming back into them.
It's a grave concern, because anybody that's gone around any of these areas when these blocks close in…. If you're on a saddle horse, riding through, it's very hard. So we've got to work together and get 'er done.
Next point. "How should decisions regarding potential actions to mitigate the timber supply impacts be made, and by whom?" Again, we feel local resource use committees would be helpful, providing knowledge and coordinating activities and actions. Decisions should consider and reflect the spirit of the higher-level plans as well as local land and resource management plans. Lots of energy has been put into those by people in the areas — good stuff.
FRPA legislation should be amended to allow for a dispute-resolution mechanism or forum to resolve conflicts between authorized tenure holders. At present the land base is crowded. Any change in direction will undoubtedly result in conflicts. This would be helpful in facilitating any kind of transition to a new model.
Government needs to listen to stakeholders and quit telling stakeholders what is best for them. Government should strive to accommodate, not manage, stakeholders' expectations. Regarding who should make decisions, we would suggest that local is best. Local stakeholders and local communities will be living with these decisions, so they should be the primary voice, with the province enabling these decisions.
"What specific information about your local area would you like the committee to know and consider?" Most of cattle ranching in B.C. uses range. Using range takes place in the southern and northern interior regions of the province. It is important for decision-makers to remember that by definition, Crown land is also Crown range in these regions. Cattle ranching in these areas generally predates the forest industry, and often it is the cattle industry that helps support some of the rural and remote community economies.
"What cautions and advice do you have for this committee in considering whether and how to mitigate mid-term timber supply?" Harvest as much as you can of the dead mountain pine beetle timber. Any of us cowboys that are out in timber where it's starting to fall down and become just a menace…. To manage the cattle under that fallen-down timber is impossible. You get your dogs…. You can't get through with your horses. It's just a pain in the neck. Probably it's not a good growing site for timber under those mats. Get rid of as much of it as you can.
Unharvested dead stands will eventually fall to the ground. When this happens, many areas will be rendered inaccessible for grazing by cattle and ungulates. Attempting to get more value out of waste wood through smaller, more localized power and heating plants or pellet plants…. Big isn't always the best. Big requires a large area to source fibre, which increases your hauling costs. There are some small-scale types of operations that work just fine, and they're site-specific to areas. I think they can get the job done in a better means and probably a more accepted means to the people in the area.
Red tape stifles innovation. Try to reduce the amount of red tape for people to get the job done in getting rid of some of these bad stands. Encourage and facilitate civil pasture, which has been shown to be beneficial for increasing both forage and timber.
I can't help but think about where we're going to be at in 80 years when these stands of new, reforested timber…. I have a woodlot now. When we were planting this spring, I was thinking of how much timber and how many of pounds of beef are going to be needed by our society in 80 years or 100 years when these stands of timber that we are planting today are going to be…. It's going to be hard to visualize.
Don't start planting trees on areas such as grasslands, non-commercial bush areas, meadows, etc. These areas are too valuable to other users as well as for wildlife.
Be overly protective of riparian areas and water quality and quantity. Water is going to be the driver in the next many, many years, and we've got to look after it.
Review the GAR orders associated with mule deer winter ranges, and refine the boundaries where appropriate. Often the mapping of these areas appears to be excessive and too generalized. In a lot of the areas where ranching is big, it seems like the mule deer population is definitely not a problem.
Be cautious about removing natural barriers, which are important to Crown range users. By law, the removal of a natural barrier must be mitigated. Mitigation for a natural barrier removal must be considered during the decision-making process. Again, our ranches are set up by sustainable units, and our ranges are a set area. Those natural barriers stop our cattle from going into a neigh-
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bour's range or into an area where it costs us a lot more money to get our hands on our cattle in the fall when we gather them.
The control of invasive plants is key to having a healthy rangeland. Control of invasive plants will affect all of society and must be part of all timber supply areas. Access corridors, roads, roadside processing areas and landings should be seeded to certified domestic grass mixes at a rate higher than erosion mix levels, and we must manage these areas for invasive plants.
The next point. "How would you as an individual or a community want to be engaged in these considerations going forward?" Good communication is always helpful and appreciated. While one may not always agree with a decision, it is definitely more palatable to know in advance as opposed to being surprised in the future. Communication — clearly and regularly. Any stakeholder that will be affected must be consulted.
Remember, food is a necessity. Our ranches are balanced, sustainable units. We continue to put food on the tables of B.C. and will into the future. The timber supply people and the cattlemen can and have worked on a multiple-use basis, and we will in the future.
At this time I'd like to say thank you for allowing the B.C. Cattlemen to give our points. Any questions?
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Thank you very much for the presentation. You talked about the local resource user committees. People have talked about the local decision-making as being something that works very well. At what point did these committees cease operating? Is it something that…? You're saying that they're not active, that they need to be. What's your experience there?
D. Haywood-Farmer: Yeah. When these land use plans were arrived at, and I'm sure everybody in this room was a part of them, there was a lot of energy and a lot of time put into meeting the needs and the direction that we wanted to go. It seems to me, and I guess it's because of the mountain pine beetle problem, it's gone so far away from what we were talking about then, when the plans hit the table. Those were a good method of getting good information, and there was a lot of good information gathered and a lot of time put into preparing them.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): And the idea was that there'd be a constant process — right? — that it would be a living document.
D. Haywood-Farmer: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): But that's fallen away, and you're saying that that would be best reinstated?
D. Haywood-Farmer: Well, it's sure a good place to relook. That's for sure.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): The second question is the last question I have. Did you talk about a dispute resolution mechanism? Inevitably there will be conflicts, and often there's a real power imbalance. I know you probably have seen that the Forest Practices Board pointed out…. I think it was with a rancher and a forest company. The Forest Practices Board said that something like this needed to be set up.
I guess the question is: have you heard of any work that's being done to come up with a mechanism for dispute resolution that would make sort of a balanced resolution possible?
D. Haywood-Farmer: To answer, no, I haven't. But it needs to be done so that there's a process in place, which all tenure holders know is available to them, so that they can get to the bottom of a problem and get it sorted out. As to actually knowing if there's a section of the Forest Practices Board where it has been used, I can't answer that. I don't know.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): There was a study, and they said, much as you're saying, that you need something like this.
B. Stewart: Thanks very much, Dave. It's nice to have you here, too, and to hear your good presentation — as we always do — from the Cattlemen's Association. What I wanted to just ask…. You mentioned about these forests and how difficult it is to either have grazing or cattle go through. You can't get through with your horses. Is it the cattlemen's position that those areas should be taken down and reforested?
D. Haywood-Farmer: Yeah, like if it needs to be done. I guess I don't like to answer that too fast. The point is that there are a lot of areas that the cattlemen and the timber licence company need to sit down and talk about which area make the most sense to them.
We have a policy in B.C.: "Take a tree; plant a tree." I don't believe in that philosophy, because a lot of the blocks that are planted are conflict blocks. That's what I call them because they're near water sources for cattle or wildlife. They're not good growing sites for timber because they're almost into the transition zone, so they're not good quality.
I would just as soon you timber boys went up the hill a little bit where you had a little more snow load and you had a little more productivity in your growing sites, and get with the program of planting your trees where they
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really grow well.
B. Stewart: Okay, so just to follow on that. You made another comment here about some of these GAR orders. You felt that they were maybe a little too big. That's what you were saying. So they could be adjusted. Again, it comes back to consultation. Obviously, those were put in to satisfy somebody.
The last thing I just wanted to ask about…. You mentioned about these areas — like the amount, the speed we're reforesting at — prevent cattle from getting onto the land. When an area is harvested and then reforested, how long do the cattle have to stay off that area to, obviously, let the trees grow up? You mentioned that it was restricted access, and that was causing problems too.
D. Haywood-Farmer: Maybe I'll just back up a little bit. Probably in the '80s and '90s we used to have a kind of management on our stock ranges, and that was a part of a mill's working area or TSA or whatever you call it. Anyway, there was real, organized work to make sure that we, as the cattlemen, weren't affected in a negative way.
We used it kind of like a checkerboard or a type of harvesting technique. They would take, say, a block out of the northeast corner one year, then maybe the southeast corner the next year, or whatever. They would jog the harvest around the stock units so there was always a new cutblock and an establishing cutblock. I was able to manage the cattle to areas.
You had one where it had just been harvested. There was some open grassland, and you weren't going to affect it. Then in the ones where you had silviculture, where you had tree activity that was susceptible to cattle or to damage, you tried your best to manage away from those.
You used two things to manage to keep cattle away from those. One is salt. The other is domestic grass seed. A cattle or an ungulate will always go to a domestic grass seed before it goes to anything like a timber grass or something like that. So you can use it as a big-time tool.
We've got to get away from planting for erosion only when it comes to grasses and forage, especially if we're going to close canopies. We've got to put grass value out there (1) that competes with the noxious weeds, and (2) that supplies a really good source of feed along those corridors where you guys probably aren't going to plant at as high a rate for your reforestation, and then we'll all live happily ever after.
B. Stewart: Jeez, I'd like that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation. I have just one quick question. We're out of time, so if you could perhaps get it to us in an e-mail. You mentioned about the mule deer population. I think you'd inferred that they seemed to be increasing in certain areas, particularly around your ranch's site.
I'd just like to know what you've observed and what kind of losses you've had to your feed and to any quality of crops and those sort of things. If you can get us some information around the mule deer and stuff, that would be great, and sort of, I guess, with that — because obviously, you're a provincial organization — areas where you think you've seen larger increases over other areas.
Thank you very much for your presentation.
K. Boon: We'll supply you with the cattle-loss survey that we did last year that took in ungulate damage and wildlife damage. That'll give you a pretty good representation, I think.
J. Rustad (Chair): Perfect. Add wolves into the mix too.
K. Boon: They're in there. That was the main reason for putting it in. They haven't done well at the controlling the mule deer population yet.
D. Haywood-Farmer: Thank you very much for the opportunity to present. Good luck.
J. Rustad (Chair): Our next presenter is Neil Findlay.
N. Findlay: I'd first like to thank the committee for the opportunity. It's a very democratic process and appreciated by all the people of B.C. I realize it's a very daunting task for you, and you guys are travelling a lot. I'll keep this fairly short.
My name is Neil Findlay. I'm a registered professional forester and have operated a forestry consulting business in Kamloops for the last 21 years. I'm also the recent owner of a guide-outfitting business in Kamloops. I'm here today as a concerned forester, a concerned guide-outfitter and a concerned citizen of British Columbia.
I believe this committee is actually more about short-term timber supply than mid-term timber supply, as seems to be the debate that's going around. There appears to be some political motivation behind trying to manipulate timber inventory numbers to support rebuilding the mills in Burns Lake and Lakeland in Prince George. The loss of these mills are tragic for those communities, but we have to accept the reality that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the sawmilling capacity in the southern and central Interior have to come off line in the next few years.
To contemplate rebuilding these mills in light of the timber supply situation is unrealistic and unacceptable from a forest management point of view. We have all known for years that the MPB epidemic will result in drastically reduced harvest levels post-salvage, and that time is now, unfortunately.
I see this situation being analogous to the east coast cod fishery. We can all really want things to not change,
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but if the biology is such that harvest levels cannot be sustained, then the only responsible thing to do is to make the hard decision and bring harvest levels in line.
Our current commitments to timber supply are already completely unrealistic, due to extremely outdated inventory numbers, let alone trying to justify increased harvest levels at this point. The last comprehensive timber inventory done in the Kamloops TSA was in the mid-1980s. That's approximately 30 years ago. The old adage "garbage in, garbage out" applies to this situation, and it's very unfortunate.
Two of the major timber licensees in the Kamloops TSA have already started to develop green timber simply because there are insufficient stands of operable dead pine left in our operating areas to develop. This is going to aggravate the mid-term timber supply crunch. Everybody has the expectation that the pine is going to last at somewhat these harvest levels for several more years, and that's not reality on the land base.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Forests continues to issue millions of cubic metres of dead pine licences. All of us in the timber planning and development world just look at each other and say: "Where's all this timber supposed to come from?"
The holders of existing dead pine licences are not going to be able to achieve their harvest allocation because of the lack of supply. They're going to go to the Ministry of Forests in the next couple of years and ask them: "Where is the timber?" It simply isn't there, so I predict that they will start lobbying to allow them to go into green timber. This is going to exacerbate the mid-term timber supply falldown.
The highest priority should be those holders with replaceable licences. These are largely corporations with huge investments in milling facilities. They're very understandably concerned that there won't be sufficient timber to fulfil their tenure allowances.
The issuing of millions of cubic metres of non-replaceable licences is not helping the supply situation. The replaceable licence holders are going to move into green timber stands quicker than predicted, which is only going to make the mid-term timber supply situation worse.
Our province prides itself on our high level of forest management, and it is a critical factor in securing export markets for our forest products. The timber producers spend millions of dollars a year on third-party certification processes to prove the sustainability of their products. Overharvesting and contemplating harvesting visual landscapes, old-growth management areas and critical wildlife habitat will very quickly erode the confidence of our international customers and jeopardize our entire industry.
Our communities and economies have to be adaptable. Nothing stays the same forever, as we've all seen. A potential growth area in B.C. is expanding our adventure tourism sector, one key area being guide-outfitting. The main reason I bought my guide-outfitting territory last year is that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the people doing my job in the forest industry in the Interior will have to find work elsewhere in the next two to three years. I am diversifying, but I also need healthy wildlife populations to support my new business. Overharvesting for short-term economic gain is not going to help my transition.
Our mid-term timber supply needs to be healthy and diverse for timber supply reasons and to support healthy wildlife populations and biodiversity going forward. The propensity to log mixed-species stands and reforest with lodgepole pine is going to have a catastrophic effect on our ecosystem health and resiliency, as well as having a huge, negative impact on wildlife populations and biodiversity.
Once the pine stands are consumed, the majority of the harvest in the Kamloops TSA will turn to Douglas fir stands, due to timber availability. The licensees will often clearcut these stands, albeit in a patch-clearcut manner, and reforest with lodgepole pine to minimize reforestation costs. This is going to again have a catastrophic impact on many species. Legislation to protect stand-level biodiversity is long overdue. It's not easy legislation to impose, but it has to be done.
Selective harvesting of Douglas fir stands — and, potentially, some other species such as spruce and higher-elevation spruce-balsam stands — is an effective way to improve the mid-term timber supply situation, but it's a practice that is quickly disappearing in favour of clearcutting and reforesting with lodgepole pine. As noted, this reduces reforestation costs but, as importantly to the timber companies, is done to minimize the amount of time and risk needed to fulfil reforestation obligations. This comes back, largely, to some shortcomings in our tenure system, which I'm going to address in a minute.
The most effective ways to boost mid-term timber supply are selective harvesting, precommercial thinning and fertilization, which I'm sure you've all heard many times in the last two weeks. But we need to carefully analyze our spending to ensure a positive cost benefit to the taxpayers of B.C. Most of those silviculture techniques will have a negative cost benefit, and we have to be careful when we're spending money just to try and boost a minor amount of mid-term timber supply.
Area-based tenures will need to be looked at to encourage silviculture spending — if not area-based tenures, at least a system that has an operating-area system where the corporations can operate in geographically spatial areas. If we go to an area-based tenure system, the corporations will quickly adapt to minimize the falldown in mid-term timber supply.
The current gold rush — which is what we call it in our industry — to lock up as much dead pine before it is gone is leading to some very poor planning practices and should not be allowed to continue. It's a very frus-
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trating thing for all of us professional foresters. It's just basically a rush to get out there and see who's going to get to the dead pine stand first, and it's leading to a lot of really substandard management practices.
In summary — I told you I'd keep it short — let's get realistic inventory data in order to make sound decisions in the short term and not sacrifice the health of our forests for political expediency. We need to diversify our economies and promote super, natural British Columbia as a way to alleviate the job losses that will result from the pine beetle epidemic.
Let's encourage industries such as guide-outfitting and other forms of adventure tourism. We also have to ensure we are creating healthy and diverse forests to minimize the impact to our mid-term and long-term timber supplies for the benefit of all British Columbians and all other forest resources.
J. Rustad (Chair): Neil, thank you very much.
Questions from members.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Well, first, as you're a professional forester, I just want to say thank you. Your profession has done a tremendous job of coming and speaking during all of these hearings. We need that.
You've touched on a wide range of really complex issues. One of the areas that we are looking at is utilization, and I think that there are possibilities there. We take your point that in terms of capacity, there's a capacity issue. But we've also heard again and again that there's….
Like, we heard of birch being used up near Clearwater. We've heard of different opportunities that we haven't fully explored, and that's part of what we're looking at. Do you see opportunities there, economically and being responsible stewards of the land, that we could look at and possibly encourage?
N. Findlay: Absolutely. I've worked on some of the hardwood-type proposals. Yes, there's viable industry there, for sure. And as far as utilizing, better utilization of the dead pine stands is ongoing. I think that there's an industry evolving unto itself. There are entrepreneurs in this province, and if they're given the opportunity, I think they'll fill that niche.
I think there are opportunities for better utilization, but we do have to remember that the vast majority of this material is going through sawmills. It has to be thought of that the primary product that these licensees are after is sawlog material. We have to make sure that their needs are met too.
The tenure system as it is now encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in this province, and the government has done a very good job of that, but I just think you have to be careful of the free-for-all attitude that we've created right now. In this district alone, there are 25 non-replaceable licence holders. You do not know, when you go out in the forest, whom you're going to run into, who's operating where. It leads to road density issues. It leads to access management issues. It leads to a whole pile of other things that are not encompassed when you can have one operator in an area.
So the cautionary note is: don't over-allocate, and let the entrepreneurs in this province take care of things.
J. Rustad (Chair): There are a couple more questions. I'm just wondering about when you were talking about area-based management. We had one proposal that came forward that talked about making area-based management in the 50,000- to 250,000-cubic-metre-a-year type of range. Don't start too big. Start off a little bit smaller and provide those opportunities for the conversion over.
Obviously, I support the idea of area-based management around this, but I'm just kind of wondering: how do you move there? In an area where you've got overlapping concerns, where you've got multiple licensees in an area, how do you get to an area-based system within a complex supply area?
N. Findlay: I think that smaller tenures are a way of being inclusive. We've seen a number of successful community forest agreements with harvestable levels of 20,000, 25,000 cubic metres. We've seen hundreds of successful woodlot licensees in the province. I think that the area-based tenure system is slowly marching along, and I think that's what the people of B.C. want to see.
I do think we have to keep our large corporations to maybe a timber supply number of 100,000 to 200,000 cubic metres. It's all arbitrary at that point. But I think that the B.C. Timber Sales program allows that competitive nature to price timber, which will take care of a lot of the Americans' criticism, and I think we're going to have to increase the number of TFLs, community forest agreements, First Nations woodland licences. There have been several of those issued.
Those are all ways of being inclusive to everybody in the industry and bringing those values forward. I encourage the government to keep going down the path they're going.
B. Routley: Thank you for your presentation. I have heard that there is wood outside of the area that's traditionally contributed to the AAC. I wondered what your position was on it, and looking outside of the current AAC area for available fibre to kind of fill in some of the gaps that we see.
N. Findlay: We were actually discussing this today: why as planners do we see that there's too much allocation out there? It's bad inventory, and the inventory doesn't recognize the non-merchantable stands that are out there. We get out there on the ground. There are just
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uneconomic stands. There are millions of hectares that are uneconomic. We all try and drive the process to make those stands economic by whatever means we can, but the bottom line is that our inventory is not recognizing that areas that are already in the timber harvesting land base are uneconomic to harvest.
To think that we're going to try and expand that bubble, I think, is unrealistic. I think in reality it's probably going to decrease by probably in the magnitude of 10 to 25 percent, depending on where you are.
I think that's the biggest problem with our inventory system that we have right now. That's coming from a guy walking around in the forest, trying to find these cutblocks that will work for the companies, and we're just absolutely pulling our hair out. It's really difficult to try and find areas that meet all these criteria. Then you run into lots of constraints — archaeological issues, riparian issues. They're all good values. They all have to be managed for, and all it does is it shrinks your land base.
I don't realistically see the land base increasing, just from an economic point of view. I hope it does, but I don't see it.
B. Routley: Well, just to add to that, I think you know that the AAC has not always been harvested in the province of British Columbia, and part of the reason that it hasn't been harvested is the economics of whatever's happening at the time.
We have heard a report…. This committee didn't necessarily study it, but it's something that I'm aware of, and I know that many of my colleagues are aware of it. That's that there are many, many economic forest researchers that are talking about the possibility of a supercycle in the future. As the world wood basket shrinks, there will be a huge demand eventually — if the American market came anywhere close to what it once was, even if it started to grow in a major way.
With what we've got going on in other countries, there could quickly be a shortage worldwide, and there are forest health issues all over the world, as again, I'm sure you know.
Is it something that we should be aware of — that the economics will change? Obviously, in light of the circumstances where we find ourselves, are you suggesting that we do nothing, or is there some…? What would be the positive things that you would do?
N. Findlay: Area-based tenures will lead to that sort of entrepreneurial…. That way, you'll maximize what's on your land base. That's human nature. People have been doing that forever. If you give people that intrinsic value that that area holds, they will pull that value out.
If it needs to be cleared simply to be cleared to grow another crop of trees so that you have another rotation of trees, they will do that. You cannot expect the taxpayers of B.C. to go and clear uneconomic stands. It's just a net loss.
Getting back to your AAC question. In Kamloops they're only harvesting about 2½ million cubic metres a year, and our AAC is four million cubic metres right now. Everybody would look at that and go: "There must be this vast oversupply of timber that's sitting out there. Go out and grab it." It's just simply not there. There are lots of reasons you can say it's not there, but the fact of the matter is that it's not there. If 2½ million cubic metres is what we're harvesting right now, that's not even sustainable over the next number of years.
We've got bad data. That's the problem. We've got really bad data, and we haven't invested in our inventory work.
As far as the supercycle goes, that's going to hit us in about two to three years. There's going to be a supercycle all right, and it's going to be super profitable. The problem is that there's going to be a lot more pressure on government to keep those harvest levels at an unsustainable level to keep these mills running to finally make some profit.
I can't knock on the corporations to make that, but the bottom line is that this pressure is already starting now. You wait two or three years, when they actually are starting to make a serious profit. Then it's just going to be that much more exacerbated. I caution that at that point it becomes a political decision and not a biological one.
J. Rustad (Chair): Neil, thank you very much for your presentation.
Next presenter is RiverCity Fibre. Over to you, Chris and Cliff.
C. Ortner: Good evening. I'm Chris Ortner, registered professional forester. I'm appearing on behalf of RiverCity Fibre. This is Cliff Ramsay, the manager.
Since opening in June of 2007, RiverCity Fibre has invested $6.2 million in the future value of mountain pine beetle–affected timber through the addition of a new whole log chipping and product-handling facility in Kamloops. With a goal of increasing value to dead pine, RiverCity has been a consistent buyer of roundwood of any diameter, including small tops and badly split logs that are unsuitable for sawmill use.
These logs provide chips to make paper, fuel for a co-gen facility and bedding for the many farms and ranches in the southern Interior of B.C. I have included, for people that have a copy of the presentation, a picture of a small haul, Dan's Small Haul. He's making delivery of bedding fines to the local ranches. This is the kind of thing that's been added to the economy through RiverCity.
Five years after start-up, RiverCity now employs 13 full-time employees on site and has a payroll approaching $1 million. An additional $1.2 million every year goes into purchase of local services for maintenance
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and repair, fuel, and payments of Kamloops city taxes. Accepting approximately nearly 40 loads of logs per day, RiverCity also supports 15 full-time logging truck drivers and several chip-truck operators, who move material in and out of the RiverCity plant.
The RiverCity facility extends the shelf life of beetle-affected timber stands by allowing sawmills to focus their timber harvest on higher-quality logs, while ensuring the forest site is kept clean by removing a portion of what was formerly waste material. With RiverCity in place, there's been a large reduction in the percentage of waste burned on site, reducing air quality impacts, increasing the return to loggers and enabling easier planting of harvesting sites.
With an option for sale of large amounts of this material to RiverCity, areas of grey attack pine have become feasible for harvest, increasing the total amount of forest land converted to young, fully stocked forests.
Security of log supply continues to be an issue for RiverCity Fibre. With the DEAL processor-debarker and 24-inch whole log chipper in place to meet demand for chips by area pulp facilities, RiverCity's throughput is now over 400,000 cubic metres a year, easily replacing residual fibre from recently closed sawmills. As sawmills become less reliable for residual chip supply, whole log chippers like RiverCity have an increasing place in sustaining jobs and maintaining diversification in the forest sector.
It's our contention that this new component of the processing business needs to be appreciated and supported by government.
Our attempts to secure a 20-year non-replaceable forest licence to facilitate the removal of additional dead fibre from the forest have been frustrated. These receiving licences for logs, originally conceived for bioenergy producers, have not proceeded in the Kamloops area. The Ministry of Forests has already completed a fibre supply study to determine where and how much sawlog fibre is available. If a pulp fibre demand study were also completed, it would reveal where non-sawlog forest product demand exists.
If the Ministry of Forests introduces new demand for pulp-quality timber into the market, this could have a serious impact to our business and other businesses we support, including Domtar, Kamloops. Competition and pressure on pulp-quality timber in the Kamloops area are increasing, with whole logs moving to the coast on a regular basis. At least half a dozen buyers are active in this area.
There's an opportunity now to support a secondary facility, such as a local pellet plant or additional bioenergy capacity, as significant waste is still being left in the woods and being burned in place. New pellet facilities in Prince George have eliminated this practice. There's now very little burning within a four-hour haul of Prince George, yet we have burning within 15 minutes of Kamloops.
New licences such as the fibre supply licence to cut are a good idea, but they should not be established at the expense of existing businesses serving an existing industry. If the objective is to improve utilization in the forest and to maintain diversity in the forest sector, existing consumers such as RiverCity need to have an opportunity to pursue these licences or to be able to demonstrate the linkage to bioenergy production in order to qualify for a licence.
We are in favour of a comprehensive policy around waste in the woods, including the removal of all dry grade 4 from the bush, elimination of waste benchmarking and species adjustment factors.
Access to additional fibre in the woods will increase jobs-per-gross-cubic-metre harvested and take advantage of roads and infrastructure in place to improve utilization. We have read and heard about the resistance that the Special Committee on Timber Supply is receiving with respect to allowing harvest in old-growth and special management areas. Our contention is that harvesting these areas may be appropriate in some circumstances.
Less contentious, however, and more of an immediate gain is to encourage harvest on existing beetle licence, or cancel and reallocate these licences where they've not been utilized to people interested in forest management. Significant volumes have been committed by the Ministry of Forests and Range to groups that are doing nothing with them. At the same time, no new licences are being issued, as the current supply is considered overcommitted. This catch-22 is not good for the future forest or for our local economy.
RiverCity Fibre is primarily interested in maintaining our existing business and is willing to work with other suppliers and consumers to put forward a comprehensive approach to management of the fibre we have. That, we feel, is the most cost-effective way to weather the coming fibre supply shortage being forecast.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation.
Questions from members.
D. Barnett: Yes, thank you very much for your presentation. You don't do any actual chipping or anything out in the bush. You haul it all into your site?
C. Ortner: That's right. So far.
D. Barnett: So far. What is the smallest size that you can use? Or does it matter?
C. Ortner: It's 2½ to three inches.
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B. Routley: Just a question about how the current practices seem to be harvesting the easiest and best first. That's kind of normal business to try to look for that, but you mentioned some of the wood that's not being utilized. Could you tell us more about how we would go about that? You're actually talking about a kind of use-it-or-lose-it policy. If people have the licences and they're refusing to go get it, how would we go about actioning such a plan?
C. Ortner: Actually, I think the last presenter covered that fairly well. It comes down to marketability. For example, right now if RiverCity was able to pay $30 a cubic metre for delivered logs, they'd have no end of it. But the markets being what they are, they can pay more like $28.
Believe it or not, that's a huge difference. That's a lot of margin. When your largest suppliers are the major forest products companies — because that's who's doing most of the logging — you need to have the appreciation for the fibre.
That ties to other policy decisions, such as: how much will you pay Domtar to produce power, and are you willing to bring on other power producers to create demand for the waste wood? If there was more demand here, including demand for grindings, that sort of thing….
Like Ms. Barnett asked, about the grinding in the woods, there was an experiment here, and there was an operator around here that operated some grinders for a couple of years, but they're not operating them anymore just because there wasn't a good enough return on it.
What we need to do is, while waste benchmarking, which I noted…. In most stands ten cubic metres per hectare is allowed to be left with no charge. We believe that could be eliminated to provide an incentive for people to actually bring that wood out. If you've got a block of, say, 20 hectares — that's another 200 cubic metres — that's a few more truckloads. Right now it's not even counted.
The waste benchmark is such that there's an allowable level of waste, and then it's only if there is billable wood after that that they pay for the waste that's left in the bush. To eliminate those waste benchmarks would encourage more wood to be brought out.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation and for providing us with the information.
Our next presenter is Sean Curry.
S. Curry: Good evening.
J. Rustad (Chair): Good evening.
S. Curry: Thanks for the opportunity to speak. I'm going to do something a bit different. I don't represent a group. I'm a concerned forester, concerned citizen. I want to talk a little bit about some of the troubles I'm having with some of the information that I'm working with.
I graduated in 1985 from UBC, worked in the forest industry for about 22 years, been consulting since about 2008. A lot of my job since then has been working with timber supply forecasting for acquisitions for clients, doing work for the Ministry of Forests on timber supply, private companies, working with a lot of the data that Neil was talking about. That was a very good lead-in to what I want to talk about.
The most recent work that I'm doing is focusing on some of the mountain pine beetle impacts on timber supply in the various TSAs that the committee has been in. I'm quite familiar with some of the data. I've put together a presentation. It's focusing on kind of a technical side of forestry. Really, in my mind, one of the key things — I don't know if it's been brought to the committee yet — is about the sustainability of the timber.
Before I get into that, I've got a question for the committee. That is: when was the last time you looked at your bank account? Probably a week. Less than a month, probably. Maybe not longer than a year.
The analogy I want to use about the bank account is pretty important. I think, even if you haven't looked at it, you've got a pretty good idea of what's in there. I'd like to just keep that in mind as I go through the presentation. I included, on the second page, a graph, of course. What the graph shows is a typical mountain pine beetle–influenced timber supply forecast. You've probably seen these in your journeys.
There are a couple of things that are key in here that I want to talk about. There are three basic parts. Part 1 is that you can see that we need to ration the current merchantable timber for as long as we can. I think that's pretty clear.
Point 2 is that we need to ration that timber until the young stands that are growing — you can see them as a different colour in the graph as they mature and provide volume — contribute to the harvest levels. That needs to continue in balance as the mature timber is depleted and the regenerated stands grow, until point 3, when you have the future regenerated stands contributing most of the allowable cut.
The fundamental driver in timber supply is the point when sufficient volumes of second growth are available to support the harvest levels — again, back to point 2 on the graph.
Prior to this transition we need to basically meter out the mature timber until the second-growth becomes available. What this means, really, is that the consequence of incorrect data, specifically with the regenerated stands, is pretty key because we're rationing out what little timber we have for all of the other values that have come to the table and are looking for some recognition. We're rationing out that timber, and we are relying on the fact
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that the regenerated volumes are going to be there when we need them.
It's again back to the bank account. All of us are relying on our pension plans if we have them. All of us are relying on our savings. In the forests we're relying on the regenerated stands to be there when we need them.
Thinking along those lines, how can we have confidence in our allowable cuts when they are becoming increasingly sensitive to the volume of managed stand yields, and those yields — we have very little information to back them up?
You can imagine the discussions in boardrooms when a company is considering investing in mill modifications or looking at a purchase and the harvest forecasts are accompanied with wider and wider levels of uncertainty and less confidence in their outcomes.
I don't know if the committee knows that there are no requirements for the Forest Service or for licensees to check regenerated stands after free-growing, after they've reached that milestone. There's a clear point of due diligence, and after that there's nothing required.
If we're 100 percent correct with our predictions, it doesn't matter. We don't need to check. However, with ongoing losses attributable to forest health factors such as rust, insects, pathogens, losses to competition and outdated and inaccurate inventory, in my mind there's a great deal of uncertainty associated with the growth forecasts of the regenerated stands.
We may have world-class models — and we do have world-class models to predict regenerated stand growth, volume and product yields — but we don't have a program to verify those projections. Really, ultimately, we don't know how the regenerated stands are actually growing compared to what we predict.
Getting back to that graph. Really, we've got estimates of what's going on and happening over time in that block of timber in point 2, but we don't have verification.
There are many good reasons to monitor regenerated stand growth, but I'm just going to focus on the length of timber supply. When I talk about monitoring, I mean a very sophisticated, statistically designed series of plots that are measured periodically to support the data in a very defensible way. So it's a very validated, independent check on the regenerated growth.
As I mentioned, the mountain pine beetle has accelerated our progress into the beetle trough. We're now dependent upon the regenerated stands, the predicted growth rates and the volumes and the products that came along with those.
These young stands change at a much faster rate than mature forests and require more frequent measurements and monitoring to assess their state and change. Biologically, it's a time of really rapid change. Some Interior stands can be declared as free-growing as early as ten years of age. With the legislative changes made in 1988, technically a stand could have been declared as free-growing as early as '98, and it may not have been looked at since then.
Again, I come back to the bank account. Would you not look at your bank account for 14 years? Probably not.
I collected some other opinions in the paper about monitoring the regenerated performance. It's an interesting selection. There's one from the 2009 FREP report No. 19 about forest stewardship plan stocking standards evaluation.
The quote says that there's "significant concern for the future development of pine-leading stands established according to the stocking standards" in the northern Interior region. The concerns relate to the impacts of the high incidence of hard pine stem rusts and poor quality attributes of pine stands.
There should be "considerable concern" about the situation because of the "widespread use of pine" and the "widespread range" of forest health issues, and the "importance of existing managed and future stands to the mid-term timber supply."
"There is a need for an extensive and long-term monitoring of free-growing stands throughout B.C. to ensure that we are meeting timber supply projections and quality expectations."
There was a recent article in the Journal of Forest Research, the Canadian research journal, about a similar type of issue. It was in 2010. The quote says:
"It is assumed that stands considered acceptable at this stage will remain productive through to maturity. However, there is no formal process to monitor their ongoing condition. Anecdotal evidence is that lodgepole pine is sustaining high levels of disease, insect and abiotic damage beyond the age of 15."
They quantified the presence of 14 damaging agents in 15- to 30-year-old pine. Hard pine rusts....
"Our results suggest the need to consider potential increases in damage from disease and insects during silviculture planning and timber supply prediction."
There is another subsequent article in the Forestry Chronicle, another Canadian journal, talking about the same sort of thing.
What to do. Well, one of the mandates that the committee was charged with was to hear from the public about caution and advice. That's why I'm here. It's a cautionary tale.
Obviously, decisions need to be made and will continue to be made with the information we have. I'm not suggesting anything else. But we need to proceed with caution and continued reliance, because we are relying on unverified predictions of actual regenerated growth. We are making decisions about mid-term timber supply, and we need to know that.
The consequence of this uncertainty is that we can take a conservative approach and use predictions that are lower than reality, in terms of growth rates, and forgo potential investment opportunities.
Alternatively, we can gamble and run a significant risk
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of overharvesting, with potentially more drastic implications to mill curtailments and job losses. It's critical that as we move forward, we not only understand the value of good information, but we need to do something about obtaining better-value information.
For any data gathering program to have a positive effect on stewardship, it must be incorporated into overall forest-level goals and translated into stand-level objectives and targets.
It was pretty obvious that the changes made in the late 1980s in terms of the stocking standards and legal requirements had a tremendous impact on reforestation efforts and success across B.C. They've continued to have substantial improvements in stewardship. That's very clearly documented.
Today other aspects of forest policy and regulation, I believe, are limiting further improvements that we witnessed in the late '80s.
Some options that we could consider, to look at better understanding regenerated performance and quantification and focused management on the land base, include tenure and policy reform that would provide incentives to make regeneration and management decisions that are linked to an objective at a rotation age and not free-growing.
Examples exist in the Alberta environment, with the forest management agreements they have, which provide tree ownership to the holder of the licence, with exclusive rights to harvest, grow and manage a forest. The land is still maintained in public ownership, so it's a very neat split between the public and the tenure holder.
Alternatively, processes and funding could be put in place to ensure that regenerated stands are monitored after free-growing to provide feedback on actual performance. For a paltry quarter of a million dollars per TSA, a regenerated stand monitoring program could be put in place. It could be designed, plots installed, put in place, analyzed, results produced, generally within a year to a year-and-a-half time frame. The validity of the regenerated assumptions in the timber supply — so back, again, to point 2 on the graph — could be verified or put into question.
Five-year periodic remeasurements, which would go along with the program, would be about $150,000 per TSA. It's not a lot of money. It would provide a solid look and understanding of what the regeneration is doing. It would make my job a lot easier, in terms of providing the timber supply analysis results that I'm tasked to do.
I'm sure it would make the ministry's job a lot easier, as well as just adding a solid understanding of how reliable that data is or what the strengths and weaknesses are, because everything is coming down, in these TSAs that we're looking at, to the fact that at some point we will be relying on that regenerated volume. If we're wrong, it could have pretty dramatic results.
If you go back to the graph and just very quickly visualize that if the volume in the area in point 2 is cut in half, that line is going to drop down quite substantially. That line represents the mid-term timber supply. If we're wrong by 50 percent, it's coming down; if we are underestimating the volume by 50 percent, it's going up. It's very critical that we understand that point.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. You've used up pretty much all the time. I want to thank you for the presentation. I just wanted to confirm one thing: from the management model that you were talking about, you are in favour of more of an area-based type of tenure system.
S. Curry: Not the existing one.
J. Rustad (Chair): Not TFLs, but you're in favour of an area-base-type management, like what it is in Alberta.
S. Curry: I think it could provide some incentives, yes. But I don't think the existing one would work.
J. Rustad (Chair): There are about five different area bases on the land base in B.C. today.
S. Curry: The existing TFL — I don't think it would work for a continued or an expanded type of program.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'd love to know why, but if you can e-mail me that, that would be great.
S. Curry: I will do that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Sean.
Our next presenter will be the Shuswap Environmental Action Society.
J. Cooperman: Good evening. Thank you for this opportunity. Just as a preamble, before I became involved with the conservation community, I did forestry work and was part owner of a small sawmill.
British Columbia has wrongfully endured over a decade of serious forest mismanagement. Early in the last decade the B.C. government enshrined in law forestry policies that have virtually handed over the management of our public forests to the timber corporations. As well, government staffing was reduced to the point that there's nearly no one left to enforce what few rules remain.
The recent report by B.C.'s Auditor General reinforce these concerns about forestry mismanagement. The report concluded that the ministry has not clearly defined its timber objectives, that management practices are insufficient to offset a reduction in timber supply and species diversity and that the ministry is not appropriately monitoring and reporting results in relation to its ob-
[ Page 826 ]
Despite all these problems, I have consistently voiced that there has been at least one saving grace regarding forest management in this province, and that was the government's dedication to maintaining the land use plans that were developed after many years of studies and intense negotiations.
Now your committee is considering reneging on your commitment to these plans in order to allow logging of areas set aside for conservation and recreation. This would be akin to burning the furniture when the firewood runs out.
The information your committee is using is based on projections into the future that have little basis in reality. Not only is the inventory lacking that is used for the projections, as the Auditor General observed, but there is no accounting for the likely potential of other reductions to timber supply from the impacts of climate change.
Fires, disease and more pests are likely as the planet continues to heat up due to the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide and methane entering the atmosphere every year. It is unlikely that future timber harvests will ever increase, no matter what management changes are allowed.
Even though the B.C. government changed the mandate for forestry management to one that focused on timber, the reality is that even to manage for timber, there need to be healthy forests. The science is solid that in order to have healthy forests, it is imperative to protect and maintain biodiversity, as well as properly functioning watersheds.
The public, not the government and not the forest industry, owns B.C.'s forests. Consequently, the government needs to manage the forests on behalf of the public, which means it must protect all forest values, including recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, water, and the ability of forests to absorb carbon. Yes, forestry jobs should also be a factor, but jobs and corporate profits must not take priority over the need to maintain healthy forests.
The current forest management regime is based on the principle of professional reliance. The public has been led to believe that our forests are in good hands because professionals are looking after them and that an association based on dedication to ethical practices governs these professionals.
How can your committee carry on with the notion of gutting the land use plans and still expect foresters to use ethical practices? It is no wonder that their association is opposed to the proposal to allow logging in conservation areas. Not only is the association opposed but so are many Cariboo-Chilcotin communities, and most recently even Canfor has registered its opposition.
It would not be accurate to claim that the proposal to gut the land use plan is about protecting jobs. The B.C. government's forest policies have resulted in significant job losses due to the increase in the amount of logs that are exported and to the elimination of the appurtenancy regulations.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations 2011 Economic State of the B.C. Forest Sector confirms the significant job loss in the province. In the year 2000 there were 99,000 persons employed, and in 2011 the number went down to just 53,340. As the harvest volume has increased since its lowest level in 2009, the number of jobs has not increased significantly at all.
I spent years at two land use planning processes — one for the Kamloops and one for the Okanagan and Shuswap regions. Many thousands of dollars and many thousands of hours were dedicated to develop these plans. Every sector was represented, and we reached near consensus on the final plans. Over those many years we all developed more respect for each other, and we all supported the need for ecologically sustainable management.
Strict limits were enforced by the government regarding how much forest land could be set aside for protection to ensure that there was no more than 6 percent impact on timber supply. Thus, the conservation community had to reluctantly agree to these limits even though we knew that the amount of protection allowed was not really sufficient to adequately protect and maintain biodiversity. I have no doubt that the participants in the Cariboo-Chilcotin went through similar experiences as we did, as they developed their land use plans.
Any proposal to gut land use plans not only threatens ecosystem sustainability, biodiversity and many other non-timber forest values, but it would also seriously compromise any remnant of trust in the government that might still exist within the conservation community.
My major concern is that if you approve any measures to gut the land use plans, it would create precedents that would pose risks to all land use plans in the province. Timber supplies will be dropping everywhere due to decades of overcutting and high-grading. If the government allows the logging of conservation and recreation areas in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, no other region in the province will be safe.
In addition to logging forests currently protected under land use plans, your committee is contemplating a variety of silviculture projects to increase timber supply. Not only are these projects expensive; studies show that intensive silviculture is often ineffective and in some cases can have the reverse effect.
For example, juvenile spruce plantations when spaced and thinned are more susceptible to damage by weevils. Lodgepole pine plantations that were spaced were far more damaged by the pine beetles than stands that had no treatments. Fertilization treatments are very expensive and can result in faster growth of competing brush.
Now my recommendations. Sanity must prevail. If your committee were at all concerned with sustainability and the need to maintain public interest and trust, it
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would nix these proposals to gut the land use plans.
Instead of allowing the logging of areas set aside for biodiversity and recreation, it should recommend that these areas need to be increased in size. The loss of forests due to the pine beetles and fires has not only impacted timber supply; it has also impacted forest reserve for conservation. Consequently, there needs to be a conservation uplift, as recommended by the previous chief forester.
The land use plans were never considered to be set in stone forever. Tenure reviews are part of these plans, and these reviews need to be done to ensure that the plans are working and to consider where changes or conservation additions might be needed.
Most LRMPs included implementation committees that met throughout the year to allow for exchange of information and for review of any changes to management regimes. These committees need to be reinstated with adequate funding.
One of the proposals under consideration is to move volume-based tenures into area-based tenures. This is totally the opposite of what is needed. The entire tenure system needs to be reviewed and improved.
Smaller tenures consistently provide more jobs per cubic metre than large tenures. Communities, by and large, are better stewards of the forests than large corporations, and more community forests would be an improvement. And the appurtenancy requirements should be reinstated to ensure that forestry supports local economies.
Reports now show that the amount of not satisfactorily stocked land is now exceeding the levels reached in the 1980s when the federal government had to step in with funding through the FRDA program to help restock B.C.'s forests. Instead of spending millions of dollars on ineffective, intensive silviculture treatments, the B.C. government should invest money into restocking the increasing amount of denuded land in the province.
Perhaps the most often heard phrase and yet least adhered to is that we need to do more with less. As timber supplies fall, it is imperative that more value is obtained from the logging that does occur. The province has often looked at ways to increase value-added manufacturing, and yet the value-added jobs have been decreasing instead of increasing.
Until ways can be found to boost the number of jobs per cubic metre of timber logged, the forest industry in B.C. will continue to decline until the sun finally sets on this sector.
That's the end of my presentation.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much, Jim.
Any questions from members?
D. Barnett: Thank you very much for your presentation. This committee here is not considering reneging on the commitment to the land use plans. This committee is out listening to the public. We have made no decisions, and we have certainly no intention at this point of making any of these decisions. We're here to talk to people like yourself and to groups.
We've been all over the province, and basically we have heard a message, loud and clear, that land use plans should stay as land use plans. If there are going to be any changes, what we've heard so far is that it has to go back to a process. We've also heard from many, many different organizations and from industry that they would like to see, in some areas, resource boards that used to be there for input — those kinds of committees reinstated.
We are here to listen and to take back your valuable information, but we are not here to tell you our opinion in any way.
J. Cooperman: Okay. Well, that's good to hear.
H. Bains: Thank you for the presentation. The report is very well detailed, and there's a lot of information, but I have a couple of areas for clarification. You talk about appurtenancy and the elimination of jobs as a result of that. Perhaps you can expand on if in this day and age appurtenancy needs to be brought back in some shape or form. And if it is, what shape and form and what kind of appurtenancy would you be looking at?
The second question would be…. At the end you talk about how value-added jobs are decreasing rather than increasing and the government's…. As far as I'm involved in the forest industry, I agree with you. Since the 1980s the jobs are actually decreasing. So what needs to be done in order to encourage value-added jobs? It's not working — whatever the program that any government has brought in. Is there any concrete proposal that you might have?
J. Cooperman: As far as value-added goes, we certainly don't need to reinvent the wheel. I remember Corky Evans prepared a report — I think it's about this thick — as to how to improve value-added in this province. You know, we don't have to go out and create another report like that. We could probably look at it, and there are probably many good ideas in there.
We could also look at other provinces. Value-added is much more successful in eastern Canada than it is here. They get way more jobs per cubic metre in Ontario, Quebec and so on than they do in British Columbia.
As far as appurtenancy goes, we could redefine through the tenure system a social contract with companies, that they are required to provide so many jobs in a community near where these logs are harvested. That was the whole principle in the beginning, back when we started logging in British Columbia and handing out licences. Somehow that's all been lost. Now it's all about corpor-
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ate profits. We need to get back to the whole reason we set up the Ministry of Forests in this province, and that is to provide communities with sawmills and good jobs for communities. We can do it, I think.
As I mentioned, the smaller the mill, the more jobs there are. Small is beautiful. There are books written on that. The bigger the mill…. Look at the mill at Adams Lake. It's enormous. I think it's the largest mill in the province. They cut twice the wood with half the number of people that they used to employ there. It's great for profits for the shareholders. It doesn't do much good for the community. I thought that was what government was supposed to be looking after — not the shareholders.
J. Rustad (Chair): Jim, thank you very much for your presentation.
Our next presentation is from SIBAC.
Rhona and Rob, over to you.
R. Martin: Okay. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for allowing us to present to you today. My name is Rhona Martin. I'm an electoral area director with the Columbia-Shuswap regional district, and I'm also the chair of the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition. With me is Rob Gay, who is also an electoral area director and the chair of the East Kootenay regional district.
SIBAC was formed in 2007 by local governments and First Nation leaders concerned about the implication of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Our membership includes nine regional districts and five active tribal councils and CFDC of Central Interior First Nations.
On behalf of the board of directors I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to present, and I would also like you to know that we will be submitting a detailed submission.
While we appreciate the opportunity to present, SIBAC is concerned that this committee has been given far too little time for such an important issue. I'm sure that you're well aware how complex this issue is and how emotional it is to many communities.
We have known for quite some time that the timber supplies will at some point be reduced. When we were going through our processes we kept that in the back of our mind consistently. Many of us know also what it's like to lose a sawmill. The social and economic impacts are long-lasting, and for many people it's absolutely devastating. They don't recover from it.
In preparing its final mountain pine beetle mitigation plan, SIBAC consulted extensively throughout the southern Interior, including First Nations communities. The comments and recommendations we will be making to you today and in our written submission are based on the input we received from the public.
In our public consultation we consistently heard several concerns regarding the mountain pine beetle epidemic: the hydrological cycles, drinking water quality, flooding risks and local government and First Nations infrastructure. Just a side comment. We did have our board meeting in Lillooet last month, and the flood waters were coming down the main street. Somebody had actually made a little paddlewheel out of a bicycle. This is one of the impacts that we had heard about consistently throughout our whole region.
The impacts on wildlife habitat and wildlife population, on First Nations' current and future cultural and economic use of their traditional territories, on other economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism, the continued loss of employment and rural economic contribution from the traditional-dimension lumber production segment of the forest sector and the continued corporate consolidation and increasing control of B.C.'s public timber by increasingly fewer companies are of great concern.
The lack of access to fibre and other business supports that would encourage more value-added wood manufacturing in the southern Interior. The desire to see more timber rights and volumes assigned to community forests, woodlots and First Nations tenures. Community and First Nations concerns around wildfire risk and hazard abatement. The mountain pine beetle impacts in terms of job loss and economic impacts from the loss of industrial taxation in forest-dependent communities.
A desire to see government training and support programs that are designed to keep displaced workers living in their current communities rather than leaving to find employment elsewhere. Widespread concern about general rural economic decline in B.C. and the lack of enough senior government action and resources to help economically revitalize rural B.C. communities.
Since SIBAC completed its mountain pine beetle mitigation plan in October of 2009, we've focused on implementing the recommendations. We've actively worked to support, design and fund projects that address the impact. To date we have funded approximately 75 projects. The total of SIBAC dollars committed to projects is approximately $1.1 million, and the total dollars leveraged to date is approximately $13 million.
We are circulating our January 2012 project update document, which gives details on the projects that we have funded. Our member contribution of $175,000 has covered the cost of administration, so all of the provincial funding we've received has been going to projects. We have partnered on several projects with the two other beetle action coalitions.
I'd like at this time to take the opportunity to thank the provincial government for their continued support and the establishment of this committee. I'd also really like to commend Donna Barnett. You’ve been a true champion for all of us, and we really appreciate that.
I would ask for your assistance in lobbying the federal government to honour their commitment of $1 billion,
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of which $800 million is still outstanding. On two occasions we have made presentations to the federal government. The first was to the federal Standing Committee on Finance in October 2010 and the second to Minister Flaherty at his round table on finance on January 31, 2011. We are circulating the submission to you that was presented to Minister Flaherty.
On a personal note, I want you to know that SIBAC has been one of the most rewarding committees that I have been involved with. The inclusion of our First Nations partners right from the beginning has been beneficial to all of us, and I believe that we do make a difference to all of the communities in our region.
I would at this time like to turn it over to Rob Gay. Rob will talk more about our final recommendation and the advice to this committee. Thank you.
R. Gay: Thank you very much for hearing us this evening. I, like Rhona, have been on the SIBAC committee since we formed in 2007, so we've come a long way. As Rhona mentioned, we have our First Nations partners, and they've been with us right from the beginning, and all the nine regional districts. It was a larger area than we're used to dealing with, the southern Interior, but I think we've been quite effective.
As Rhona noted in our public consultation exercises, we heard from a wide variety of stakeholders and residents throughout the southern Interior. We heard a strong message around the need to focus on maximizing wealth and value from our forest sector to sustain healthy rural and First Nations communities and generate wealth for the entire province.
Our research, however, highlighted for us that there is an underlying economic development problem in much of the interior of British Columbia. Unfortunately, many of our most at-risk communities for mountain pine beetle impacts also have extremely low rates of economic growth and diversification. As a result, there needs to be concerted focus on supporting the transition of these communities.
Therefore, a core SIBAC recommendation is that we believe the province must provide some new rural economic development resources and funding. We also believe it is critically important that additional financial resources be provided to the most at-risk communities and First Nations in the mountain pine beetle epidemic zone.
We also heard a lot of concerns about mountain pine beetle impacts and the impacts of mountain pine beetle salvage harvesting. As a result, we believe it is critical that any potential forest policy changes must only be done after extensive consultation on an individual timber supply area level.
During our consultations with the public, we also consistently heard that communities and First Nations want more timber locally controlled through community forests, woodlots and First Nations tenures. We also feel that it is critically important that we aggressively develop a meaningful value-added strategy for British Columbia instead of simply focusing on attempting to keep timber supply high for predominantly dimension lumber production. We believe it is critical to maximize the economic value to the public of British Columbia from every cubic metre of timber harvested.
It is also important that we not lose sight of the non-timber values our forest lands have for our rural communities and First Nations communities. Issues related to the environment, culture and land base activities, such as tourism, range and recreation, need to remain in focus.
In closing, we are pleased to have had the opportunity to make this presentation this evening, and we would look forward to taking part in any further consultation.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation, as well as for the work that you've done through SIBAC.
Questions from members?
D. Barnett: I'd just like to say: keep up the good work, keep up your great relationships, and we're here to help.
R. Martin: Thank you.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): First, just to build on what you were saying about MLA Barnett. In terms of the work we've been doing here, she has constantly reminded us to refer back to the work of the various beetle action committees and to make sure that that work is something that moves on into fruition.
That sort of leads to my question. I know that there has been some work done and that there has been some success, but obviously there is a tremendous amount that needs to be done going forward. I wonder if you could give us some sense.
You've been at meetings of all of the beetle action committees. Going forward over the next four and five years, what sort of commitments do you need from government to make sure that the plans that you have are actually plans that come to fruition in a full way? What level of commitment are we talking about here?
R. Gay: Thank you for the question.
What we've continued to do, as Rhona mentioned in her presentation, is…. The federal government at one point had promised a billion dollars, and as was said, $200 million has been provided. That's some years ago now. We still feel that's on the table. It's not provincial money so much as the federal government should be asked to live up to that promise.
People have been writing. As I mentioned — and we will provide you a copy of our presentation to Minister
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Flaherty — we have not varied from that. We've said $800 million at $100 million for eight years. That would be somehow…. It doesn't have to be delivered by SIBAC. We're a tool. If we're the right tool, we could help with that, and we're more than prepared. But that's the level of investment we need in British Columbia.
You'll see in our report, which we'll provide to you, that the current tenure system…. When you look at it, the revenues from government are way down. The number of jobs per cubic metre is way down. The number of mills, of course, we all know, is down.
Whatever we're doing…. It may be working for somebody, but for the rural communities and for British Columbia we're missing the mark. It's a big job and probably a big number, Norm, to help the transition of some of these communities.
Many of the ones we call at risk are communities that are defined by the amount of timber they have and their dependency on forestry — so in your area a town like Canal Flats. For people that know Canal Flats, it's what we would call a one-industry town. It's a forestry town with a little bit of tourism. The loss of a mill in Canal Flats, and we've all witnessed it in B.C., is pretty much the death knell of that town. Those are the communities that we say are most at risk, and we've identified those in the SIBAC area.
R. Martin: If I could add to that, I would just like to say that continued financial support would be appreciated.
Also, there's been discussion around our beetle action table that perhaps we need to expand the mandate to not just look at the beetle but at forest health in general. We're constantly hearing of other diseases that are attacking our forests, so I think that there would always be a need for a group like ours that knows the area, knows the communities that it's dealing with and knows best how to serve the people.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. Well, thank you for the work.
If there's more time, I'll ask something else. You had also talked about….
First, in terms of political promises, there's a fluidity to these promises, and I take your point. You've got a quotation from the federal Minister of Finance. It was pretty unequivocal, but like I say, I think we've all experienced the fluidity of promises over the time.
You also talked about other development proposals, other economic development ideas. Maybe you could flesh that out a little bit. I know your experience is really vast in terms of economic development, so what sort of programs are you talking about that you think need to be there for proper transition?
R. Gay: Probably, to boil economic development down, in the simplest terms it's either…. In my view, it's attracting new business — which is sometimes difficult — and the second part is allowing existing business to expand. I think some of the presenters tonight spoke about that — RiverCity. They just need a little bit of timber, and they're creating some jobs in the community. Those are the things. How can we help business expand? I think that's the form of policy that government needs.
As Mr. Ortner said earlier, I think the fibre licence is a good idea. It doesn't have to be monumental changes, but those are the types of ideas that will help and allow people to go in. There is still volume in the woods.
And we're not trying to…. Some of my friends in the environmental community say we're trying to vacuum the floor of the forest. We are not. We are going to leave enough debris there that there will be some nutrient cycling. Good foresters aren't going to allow that to happen. But there are areas of waste that can be used for bioenergy or for chip production or animal bedding. You've probably heard a number of things.
Supporting existing businesses to grow is probably one of the easiest ways around economic development, and there are many needs around that for business. Often it's some coaching and some good government policy to allow them to move forward.
R. Martin: One of the things that we've talked about around our table, also, is the reinvestment in rural B.C. by the provincial government. For the past several years we've seen the centralization of many of the provincial government services. I think that it's really hurt the smaller rural areas, and it would be nice to have some of the centralization take place in the smaller communities so that people are having to travel out, and then other people understand what we're going through.
It's also very important to understand that there are many communities that don't have the infrastructure. They don't even have the capacity of high-speed Internet, and today that's essential. Cell service — most business people are trying to do business every day with their cell service. For tradespeople, having to go back into cell service areas is very expensive. It costs them time and money. Just simple things like that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Bill, you wanted to ask a quick question.
B. Routley: Yeah. I guess the question is…. As a result of all of this money going in, a lot of the money has been focused on important projects to help the community in some way. Obviously, these communities are going to be devastated by the pine beetle, so I totally understand that focus.
But I wondered if you had data on how much of the money was actually focused on forest health issues as compared to community issues. Was the mandate, in
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your understanding, clearly for the community, and really, it's up to the Ministry of Forests to deal with forest health issues?
I just wanted to…. I need it clear in my mind, because I'm not clear. The name beetle action coalition sounds like you're acting on the problem with the pine beetle out in the woods in some ways, but maybe I'm totally wrong on that. Is it in a major way focused only on community projects?
R. Martin: We are responding to the results of the beetle. That's our action. We're trying to mitigate the impacts of what the beetle is doing. I mean, we are seeing things happening all over the province. Wildfires in the Cariboo — the last few years have been absolutely horrible. We're seeing some slides happen now where there are no trees to hold the moisture in the soils in the ground and everything's sliding into creeks, causing debris flows.
That's the type of thing that we're trying to mitigate. We can't do anything about the beetle. By the time the beetle is visible, it's probably already too late.
Rob, did you want to add anything?
R. Gay: Just to add to that, we define communities in a few ways. An example may be in the Columbia Valley. We've helped…. They've been trying to form a community forest — headwaters community forest. We've provided them with some money to do some feasibility work, and I think they're making good progress.
That's more at a community level, but we also do many projects at a SIBAC level. Let's say for the log house builders association. We may do that in conjunction with SIBAC. So we not only deal at a community level, but if we can….
What we've done is try to allocate our funds that way, and said a percentage needs to go to individual communities. But we would also like to deal with things…. We have a project called a Bridges program where people can access value-added wood, because that's…. We talked earlier about getting the best dollar for value. So if somebody needs a log for musical instruments, they're willing to pay a high price for that, and there are a number of jobs for that.
Those are the broader-type projects that we've been involved with. Another one that we've put a lot of money into is alternate energy and green energy, because we do see an opportunity there.
J. Rustad (Chair): Great. Rhona and Ron, thank you very much for travelling here and for providing us with the information. Much appreciated.
B. Stewart: Rhona, nice to see you. Rob. I appreciate all the work that these people on your committee have been putting in over the years.
The question I really have…. You touched on economic development, and you talked about the fact that you wanted to have further investment in economic development in the communities in terms of people to help. There is that service in government on a small scale. But of course, one of the things that we've heard while the committee has been touring is about the value-add, in terms of what we could do to add further value to the timber that's out there.
Rob, you just mentioned the amount of jobs per metre. I guess I'm wondering: with the beetle action coalition, have you come up with any ideas or ways to kind of harness that opportunity that we keep hearing about?
How do we get these communities that are affected severely by mountain pine beetle looking at some of the other opportunities? There's still green timber that maybe is that opportunity that you touched on there — some of the ones that are out there. Is there anything from an economic development point of view that you've identified that would harness those opportunities?
R. Gay: The situation…. I'll use a local example in the West Kootenays, a company called Kalesnikoff Lumber. What the son of the owner — he's not the owner — has tried to do is to create a wood basket where the wood or the log went to the highest value. In that case he tried to put in a woodyard where if you needed birch for some furniture, you could go to that woodyard. He struggled with that because, I think it was mentioned, some of the volume he wants and who's going to harvest it….
But it seems to be with the large industry we have that they, for the most part, have all their wood tied up. And you'll see in that report we provide for you that about 50 percent of the volume in British Columbia is tied up by about four or five of the large companies. The wood that they don't tie up they have some influence on. So I'm your small logger, but you go bid on the sale, and you sell it to me. We see this.
The wood is consolidated, and it's really hard for an operation like Ken Kalesnikoff's to be able to provide that wood. But that's the kind of thing that we're seeing. I don't think we're getting the greatest value out of the wood. If you look at our report, you'll see that — the stumpage we're not getting.
One of the other recommendations we talk about is sharing that stumpage with the community. There's quite a frustration in rural communities that see their sawmill close and none of the money come back, in their view, to it. We heard that loud and clear.
It's kind of a long answer, but it's around diversification. We can diversify the forest industry itself, and we could also have that broader diversification into tourism or range or recreation areas.
R. Martin: I just wanted to add my two cents' worth about the small timber sales, because that's what we see
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in our community a lot — where somebody goes in and purchases it for the major company, and then the smaller guy has no way to access it all.
You talked about appurtenancy, or it was brought forward a little while ago. Well, my community is a victim of appurtenancy. Perhaps if there would've been something in place, we would still have a mill.
I know decisions are made for reasons at the time, but when you're the victim of that decision, it's a pretty hard pill to swallow when you see truckload after truckload heading every which way but to your local processing plant in the community.
You have a tough job ahead of you.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much for your presentation.
That concludes the presentations for our committee today. Unfortunately, we do not have time for an open mike. But I would like to encourage people, if you have some thoughts that you'd like to share with us, to please consider sending that to us by July 20 through our website, which is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee.
I'd like to thank everybody for coming out today and especially to those who presented to us and provided us with the information. This is the last community that we are doing in the tour, but like I say, there's still the public input, and that will still be part of our process when we go forward. Our final report will be due by August 15 to the Legislature.
Once again, I just want to thank Hansard Services for the work they've done on the tour — it has been quite a pace — as well as, of course, the Clerk's office for all of their organization, keeping us on schedule and making sure that we were in the right community at the right time. It's much appreciated.
With that, this meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 9 p.m.
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