So it now seems that a decision about the timber supply review won’t be made this month, the next month, or even the month after that.
The decision is turning into a more lengthy process than the ‘six to eight weeks’ that Jobs Tourism and Innovation Minster Pat Bell was touting in Burns Lake in January.
That was nearly four months ago and there is probably not going to be a decision made for as many months on top of that.
All said and done, it may end up being a year-long process, just for the timber supply review. If, after the review, Hampton Affiliates do decide to rebuild, it will then be another year and a half of planning and construction on top of that.
It is not really all that surprising that the province has now decided to involve the public in the timber supply review process, after all so many people have had so much to say about the issue, but maybe they should have thought about that sooner.
As the process moves on, the province have found themselves increasingly in the hot seat. It caused a bit of a stir when a leaked document marked, ‘Confidential advice to Cabinet’ proposed shifting forest management from a stewardship model, to one that puts short-term economic interests first, suggesting logging areas that have been set aside to protect old growth, wildlife habitat and visual corridors, logging at an increased rate and taking decisions away from the chief forester and putting them in the hands of government.
Is the province passing the buck by allowing the public to weigh in?
In other timber supply reviews there has been a public consultation process, but much of public opinion is uninformed on the technicalities of the issue. Not to mention that we have already gone through a process about how much beetle killed timber is out there, how much timber is still viable and how many people think the visual quality should be relaxed.
Either way, the government seems to be dragging their feet all of a sudden.
As I see it, there is probably only one option to solve the issue – either you cut down more trees to feed the mills, or you don’t, because most B.C. sawmills, not just Babine Forest Products, are running out of economically accessible timber.
A public dialogue is not going to change this fact. If the province is looking for public consensus or approval for cutting down trees that have previously been out of bounds, I don’t think they are going to get that.
Much of the timber set aside in these visual quality areas is beetle killed and deteriorating, so harvest this timber. But the tourism industry say there is value in these trees left standing ... but I wonder, are red and grey dying trees standing in our forest a turn-on for tourists? Not to mention the fire hazard it causes.
I hope that a decision is not a long, drawn-out process. Babine Forest Products employees and our community need to know where they stand, so they can get on with their lives.
We can not attract any further investors in our town if we are surrounded by uncertainty.
– Lakes District News (Burns Lake)