QC councillor unclear about community forest

  • Nov. 19, 2010 8:00 a.m.

How is the Misty Isles Economic Development Society accountable to Queen Charlotte, especially when it comes to the community forest, councillors wanted to know at the recent council meeting. A summary report of MIEDS October 15 meeting, the first report of its kind ever received by the council, brought the topic to the forefront. Councillor Kris Olsen raised the first question. “I’m still unclear as a community what our jurisdiction or authority is over the community forest,” he said. The MIEDS report included mention of the Forestry Licence to Cut of 25,000 m3 yearly offered to the islands’ communities by Minister of Forests Pat Bell. Included with this offer is the province’s commitment to offer an 80,000 m3 Community Forest Agreement after the allowable annual cut has been determined. This will be in partnership with BC Timber Sales. According to the MIEDS report, “the board decided at the previous meeting to use the FLTC as a means of testing the working relationship with both BC Timber Sales and Taan Forest Ltd. by having BC Timber Sales develop the harvest area to the permit stage for us so we can then work with Taan Forest Ltd. to log and market the timber.” Mayor Carol Kulesha said BCTS has not found an acceptable area for the 25,000 m3 cut yet, although this is being investigated. She reminded everyone that the province was looking for a entity that represented the islands’ communities and MIEDS. Councillor Leslie Johnson said the relationship between the communities and MIEDS is muddied by the fact that there are appointed community members on the board as well as the leaders of Queen Charlotte, Masset, Port Clements, Area D and Area E (Sandspit). She also noted that the communities need some kind of contract. “I just think if you’re going into a business venture you need political bodies clearly linked into that venture,” said Councillor Johnson. “I question the accountability link back to the council,” she said. Mayor Kulesha said there is no contract yet and when it comes to operating the tenure, there may be a flow through agency. “I see MIEDS as a stepping stone,” she said. She agreed to take council’s concerns back to the board of MIEDS. Also in the MIEDS report: “We do not grant money or operate businesses directly, but rather seek to address critical gaps and develop the tools that local businesses can benefit from…” Activities include: Haida Gwaii Agriculture Strategy, Haida Gwaii Trail Strategy, Community Investment Profile, Regional Economic Development Implementation Plan, Value Added Symposium, Tourism Advisory Committee. Also high school job readiness, board development workshop, non-profit society list and resources page.