CHN eyes more forest tenures

  • Jan. 18, 2012 11:00 a.m.

The Haida Nation is interested in the idea of using Gwaii Trust money to buy the tree farm licences owned by Husby and J.S. Jones, CHN president Guujaaw told the other islands communities at a protocol table meeting Monday (Jan. 16). The Haida Nation now owns TFL 60, formerly owned by Western Forest Products, and would like to buy the other forest tenures on the islands, he said. “We have the Gwaii Trust, which is our money, all of ours,” he said. “It would take all of us to agree on this. that we buy up those other tenures.” Guujaaw said the Gwaii Trust money is now invested in the stock market, where it benefits big, off-island companies and is subject to market fluctuations and crashes. Instead, he said, it could be invested here where it would benefit islanders. The Gwaii Trust is currently worth more than $60 million. Its investments generate revenue used mainly for projects on the islands. Representatives of the other communities had a lot of questions about the idea. Vice-president April Churchill said the Haida Nation doesn’t have all the answers about exactly how the ownership of the TFLs would be structured, the expected cost of buying the tenures, or how many new local jobs would result. She said the first step should be for the communities to get together and apply to the Gwaii Trust for $20,000 to $30,000 to hire a consultant who can write a business proposal that will thoroughly explore these issues. “We would look at all those things and determine what would work for the communities,” Guujaaw said. “If the business plan doesn’t make any sense, you wouldn’t do it. It’s taking a look at it to determine whether or not it makes sense.” The discussion about the possible tenure purchase prompted a complaint from local business owner Randy O’Brien, who said he can’t get wood since Taan Forest (the Haida Nation’s forestry operation) took over TFL 60. “Local control doesn’t work all the time,” he said. The protocol table – representatives of Queen Charlotte, Masset, Port Clements and the CHN – voted to take the idea of jointly applying for Gwaii Trust funds for a business proposal writer back to their councils for a decision. Meeting just a few hours after the protocol gathering, Port Clements council voted to support the Gwaii Trust application. Council member Ian Gould said the decision does not commit Port to any particular course of action, but gives the village the opportunity to learn more. Councillor Urs Thomas, however, voted against the motion, saying that it is too early to think about buying either of the TFLs and that Port should consider different options. Queen Charlotte council, which also met Monday night, tabled a decision on this matter, saying it needed more information.

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