Minister of Forests Steve Thomson is coming to Houston, Mayor Bill Holmberg said after a recent meeting with the Minister in Vancouver.
Mayor Holmberg, Deputy Mayor Shane Brienen and Dave Mayor drove to Vancouver for the meeting Nov. 28, and Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld took part via conference call.
They met with Minister Thomson, and were joined by MLA John Rustad and Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.
“We asked about the Competition Bureau. The licence hasn’t been awarded yet because the Competition Bureau is still involved,” Holmberg said.
“We’re fighting more for the 280,000 cubic metres [of timber rights] that they want to ship to Pacific Inland Resources (PIR) in Smithers.
“I understand the swap between the two mills, but they should leave the extra 280,000 cubic metres right here, it doesn’t need to go anywhere.
“We want it to go into forest reserve, or go into the small business program in our Community Forest so that it can stay local.”
“Whether we’re successful or not, I don’t know,” Holmberg said, adding that Minister Thomson promised to check into it.
“There wasn’t much that came out of that meeting, other then that he agreed to come [to Houston] and see us,” Holmberg said.
MLA John Rustad says the visit will likely be in January.
Reporting to council last week Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Shane Brienen said they didn’t get a lot of information.
“It was a frustrating meeting, most of our questions weren’t answered.
“They were a little confused actually about how that timber transfer deal worked. There was a lot of questions that we felt they should have been able to answer that they were not able to,” he said.
Councillor Van Barneveld agreed.
“Not a lot of information was shared, not because they didn’t want to, almost because they didn’t know,” he said.
“When we asked them specifics [about the Competition Bureau], they didn’t really know.
“They didn’t know if the Smithers piece was part of the Competition Bureau process or not, or if it was just the Canfor piece. They had no idea. We told them to look into it,” he said.
“I don’t know if we made headway,” Brienen said.
“We did let them know that we’re not happy with the deal and we’re not happy with where some of the timber is moving. And we’ll keep working on that, trying to get a bit back for the community somehow,” he said.