by Alex Rinfret-The provincial government has no right to reclassify half the province as a “working forest” before reaching land claims agreements with First Nations, says the village of Port Clements.
“They’re wasting their time and our tax dollars fiddling around with this stuff, because they have no right to do it,” said councillor Gerry Johnson Monday (Feb. 17) as council members voted to send their critique of the working forest proposal to Victoria.
Mayor Dale Lore called the province’s proposal “the worst nightmare I’ve ever seen” for its potential to give big industry much more control over BC’s forests.
Council members spent many hours working on their response, which goes through the government proposal in detail, asking questions and making recommendations.
Its main point: government must reach land claims settlements and complete land and resource management plans before rushing into designating a huge “working forest”.
“If these are completed sooner rather than later, then large umbrella land designations like Provincial Forest and Working Forest will be redundant, or at least much easier to define, justify and protect,” Port’s critique reads. “We are concerned that premature designation of the Working Forest boundary will only bring greater conflict and uncertainty.”
The Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management issued the proposal earlier this month and gave the public until March 14 to make comments. However, in last week’s speech from the throne, the government said it will definitely introduce the working forest legislation this session, leaving council members wondering whether the ministry even plans to read their comments. (Public input so far on the government’s own web site has been mainly negative.)
Port is sending copies of its “working forest” comments to all communities on the islands, as well as MLA Bill Belsey.
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