Council Response to the UBCM’s Community Economic Development Survey

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Following is City Council’s Response to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ Community Economic Development Survey.

Forestry Survey

The UBCM Community Economic Development Committee is conducting a survey of BC local governments to learn about communication and consultation between forest tenure holders and local governments, and the impact of forestry decisions upon local governments.

Do you consider your community to be a forest dependent community?

Yes

When tenure holders make forestry decisions that will impact your community, do the tenure holders consult adequately with your local government?

No

Consultation from landowners of Private Managed Forest Land (PMFL) regulated by the Private Managed Forest Land Act and Regulations and the Managed Forest Council that administers the Managed Forest Program is not adequate and does not meet the expectations of local government or the community.

Consultation from the Powell River Community Forest is excellent. Consultation from a local tenure holder of two woodlots (W0029 and W1671) is also excellent, primarily via a website that includes an operations map and an option to subscribe to email updates of operations. Consultation from Western Forest Products, TFL 39, is also very good via an operational information map updated regularly and available online as well as via a community advisory group on which a representative from City council sits as an alternate to a Regional Board representative for local government. Consultation from remaining tenure holders is primarily limited to that which is required to meet legislative or certification requirements.

Please provide some examples of past or current forestry decisions that would have benefited from better consultation with your local government.

There is a significant amount of PMFL within and adjacent to the City of Powell River. The local government and community would benefit significantly from the PMFL landowner sharing the management commitment, operations map, harvesting plans and supporting assessments and long-term disposition or development intentions for their land. The benefit of sharing such information would be the coordination of PMFL landowner activities and plans with community planning initiatives such as official community plans, integrated community sustainability plans and economic development initiatives. Sharing information should be welcomed by the landowners and the Managed Forest Council, particularly given the realized benefits of lower taxation and the right to harvest of trees unrestricted by local government bylaws.

Approximately 245 hectares of private land owned by Island Timberlands within City boundaries were classed as managed forest land under the Assessment Act in 2009. These lands have since been harvested at a rate suggesting they are not being managed for long-term production and harvesting of timber but rather short-term liquidation and disposition within less than a decade of being classed as managed forest. This is arguably inconsistent with the intent of the managed forest property classification to encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production. If disposition is intended, It is certainly unfair to the remaining landowners within the municipality that will have shouldered an unfair taxation burden in previous years given the exit fee adjustment factors that would apply as outlined in the Private Managed Forest Land Regulation.

For the examples you provided above, what has been the community impact of those forestry decisions?

Reduced tax base. Inconsistency and uncertainty for community planning. Impact to community aesthetics and recreation, particularly with respect to green space and trails.

What changes would you suggest to improve the community impact outcomes of forestry decisions?

This could include, but is not limited to:

  • regulatory or statutory amendments regarding tenure holders’ responsibility to local governments
  • clarification of requirements for format, content, or level of detail of forest stewardship plans
  • clarification of requirements for the communication methods used and frequency of communication by tenure holders
  • changes or clarification of requirements of the consultation process between tenure holders and local governments

1) Amendments to the Private Managed Forest Land Act and Regulations are required.
Amendments to the Act are required to provide more local government authority regarding uses of Private Managed Forest Land. Section 21 of the Act is an unacceptable restriction on the authority of local government to adopt bylaws or issue permits that would regulate activities on PMFL. Residents of municipalities reasonably expect that their local government should be able to regulate activities on PMFL. This is particularly reasonable given the reduced taxation benefits.

Amendments are also required to the PMFL Regulation with respect to the exit fee adjustment factors. The timelines and adjustment factors are not reasonable given the intent of the managed forest property classification to encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production.
Annual consultation and sharing of the management commitment, operations map, harvesting plans and supporting assessments and long-term disposition or development intentions for land within municipal boundaries should be required.

2) Amendments to the Crown land forestry legislation (Forest and Range Practices Act and Regulations, etc) are recommended to require annual consultation via presentation and sharing of an operations map and development plan (outlining proposed harvesting, road building and other forestry activities) with local government.

All information provided by City of Powell River.

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