Closing keynotes were delivered at the North Central Local Government Association’s AGM and Convention in Williams Lake Friday afternoon.
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson’s speech focused on wildfires, caribou recovery, and the forestry industry.
“Earlier this month I introduced amendments to the forest act to add a public interest test to tenure transfers or change of control in forest licenses, and contrary to what some critics are saying this bill is about opening up dialogue with industry, with communities, and with first nations,” he said.
“We all know a company has logging rights; it’s logging rights to a public forest. If a company wants to transfer its tender to another company, it is not unreasonable for them to share their proposal publically first.”
Donaldson added that the bill says that the Minister may apply conditions.
“Forests belong to the people of BC; they’re not assets belong to companies and this legislative amendment will allow us more tools to manage the forests in the public interest first and foremost.”
The legislation according to Donaldson is only part of the larger and ongoing engagement of forest policy and forest management.
“In the next few weeks we’re launching an engagement process on the Interior forest sector,” he said.
“In the Interior we know that there is a strong forestry sector with tens of thousands of high range harvesting, processing, and manufacturing jobs that contribute to BC’s economy, and the Interior is facing challenges: a shrinking supply of beetle-killed timber, record wildfire seasons, US lumber trade actions, and climbing lumber prices have all made business more difficult.”
“To address those challenges and secure and restore BC forestry jobs we need to take a different approach, and we will be engaging with the communities, first nations, industry, and stakeholders.”
Donaldson also spoke of understanding the significance of the BC Rural Dividend that has announced its sixth intake.
The NCLGA AGM and Convention takes place next year in Prince George.
(Editor’s Note: Listen to Doug Donaldson closing remarks on wildfires and caribou recovery in the audio file below.)