The Village of Port Clements council has scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to discuss the impasse with timber sales. (Karissa Gall/Haida Gwaii Observer file)

Port Clements to discuss timber sales impasse at UBCM

Mayor Doug Daugert says forestry employers are critical to the long-term wellbeing of the community

The Village of Port Clements council has scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to discuss the impasse with timber sales as part of the virtual 2020 UBCM Convention.

Mayor Doug Daugert told the Observer the impasse is affecting two of the community’s main forestry employers — Infinity West Enterprises Inc. and O’Brien & Fuerst Logging — which are critical to the long-term wellbeing of the community.

“There have been none approved within the Timber Supply Area for a couple of years now,” Daugert said of Timber Sale Licences (TSLs). “We’re definitely concerned because a lot of our people are employed in market logging and logging on bid sales.”

A ministry spokesperson confirmed the two most recent TSLs on Haida Gwaii were issued in March 2016. One of the TSLs was recently completed, but the other was never logged.

The Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) rejected the sale and in 2017 Old Massett Chief Councillor Duffy Edgars rallied people for a blockade.

“All of council was against the logging there, because of the surroundings and because it’s supposed to be part of the community forest,” Edgars said of one of the planned cutblocks east of New Town.

ALSO READ: Old Massett launches blockade against logging close to New Town

In December 2017, the province sent the Misty Isles Economic Development Society (MIEDS) an invitation to apply for a community forest tenure that required 50/50 revenue sharing with BC Timber Sales for most of its annual cut.

However, MIEDS staff asked for more time to negotiate and get updated forest inventory data.

ALSO READ: Islanders aim for better deal on Haida Gwaii community forest

The timber supply review continued through 2019, and in May the CHN and province announced reaching a new tree cutting agreement — an annual allowable cut (AAC) of 804,000 cubic metres for the Timber Harvesting Land Base on Haida Gwaii.

The new AAC is about 13 per cent less than the previous AAC of 929,000 cubic metres, determined by the Haida Gwaii Management Council in 2012.

Following these milestones, Daugert said more clarity on community forest apportionment is expected in the fall, which he hopes will lead to the province letting out new TSLs in a reliable way.

“From Port Clements’ perspective we’re saying come to an agreement and let’s get a stable release of wood to these timber sales that would allow businesses to plan and go ahead,” he said. “We just are looking for a way to move forward.”

At this time, he added, consistency is more critical than quantity.

“On the timber sales, we feel that there needs to be a commitment to some consistent volume, even if it’s lower than the province would like at this time, to just do some and keep it going, because businesses might find ways to scale down and survive.

“We’re asking the province to try to bring some stability to it … it’s sort of in their ballpark to try to bring stability to the industry and to the small communities here.”

ALSO READ: CHN, province reach ‘milestone’ tree cutting agreement, reducing annual cut by 13%

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