Houston council is seeking the support of the provincial government to expand the Dungate Community Forest.
Council hopes to expand the land and timber volume for the community forest’s K2L Licence, which currently permits an annual allowable cut of 29,000 cubic metres. The district would like to see the K2L Licence include up to 50,000 cubic metres in additional volume.
According to the district, Dungate has proved to be a significant community asset, generating profits that are distributed throughout the local economy and to community groups.
“The community forest supports the economic and social vitality of the community as a whole,” states the district in a staff report. “This [proposed expansion] would increase the viability of the community forest over the long term and could accommodate other uses within the community forest without impacting the financial sustainability.”
Although district staff have contacted the ministry and Canfor staff to seek assistance in identifying additional volume, the process to pursue an expansion remains unclear, according to the district, adding that it currently relies on the willingness of existing licensees to relinquish timber rights.
Council will meet with Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention next month to discuss this topic. The UBCM convention will be held in Whistler from Sept. 10-14, 2018.
In addition to seeking support to expand the Dungate Community Forest, the District of Houston will ask the province to reintroduce appurtenance rules.
The district would like the province to review the relevant legislation, regulations and policies that permit timber licensees to harvest timber from one timber supply area and process it in another community.
“The elimination of appurtenancy rules in the early 2000s was a significant loss for communities, and meant resource extraction by large corporations could continue without any secondary benefits being realized,” states the district in a staff report. “The District of Houston would like to see appurtenancy rules reintroduced to ensure local timber processed locally to support the economic vitality of our region.”
According to the district, in 2014 the lack of appurtenancy rules allowed Canfor and West Fraser to swap timber licences, which the district believes contributed to the closure of West Fraser’s sawmill in Houston, the loss of 225 direct jobs and over $400,000 in property tax revenue.
Earlier this year Premier John Horgan said his government was committed to reintroducing appurtenancy rules.