Uncertainty among user groups in the Lakes District who previously relied on Burns Lake Community Forest (BLComfor) funding for their projects made its way to Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council chamber last week.
Village of Burns Lake counc. Wes Hart reported to council that concerns surrounding the availability of BLcomfor funds were expressed during the previous week’s meeting of the VBL rec-connect committee.
Rec-connect is a regularly scheduled opportunity for local sports and recreation groups to meet with VBL recreation co-ordinator Logan Wilson on matters related to providing ongoing recreation activities in Burns Lake and area.
“There was some talk about [the] Comfor disbursement of money to the village, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) and the Burns Lake Band (BLB),” Hart said.
“There was definitely some animosity about there being no more grants that can be applied for [and] questions as to what the Village of Burns Lake is doing with the money.”
Mayor Luke Strimbold confirmed that the village is working on a model to distribute money from this year’s BLcomfor profit sharing.
“The Village of Burns Lake will discuss its portion of the Community Forest profit sharing during budget deliberations,” Strimbold said.
“We will also have this as a key discussion item during our town hall budget meeting. There will be plenty of opportunity for the community to provide input into how we use the Village’s portion of the profit distribution.”
Village of Burns Lake counc. Frank Varga, who also sits on the BLcomfor board of directors, later clarified that the BLComfor board of directors expects to have policies ready for adoption by January, 2014.
“I can confidently say… user groups will have the opportunity to apply for funding in 2014,” Varga said. “We are working through the policies and the donation policy is the first one on the list.”
Under the Long Term Community Forest Agreement (LTCFA) which governs the BLComfor, both the BLB and WFN have a right to harvest up to 16,000 cubic metres of logs, or a right to 18 per cent of the total annual harvest, whichever is less. The balance of the harvest is to ‘[generate] benefits for all the residents of the Lakes Timber Supply Area’.
Writing a cheque to the village from BLComfor profits is a divergence from previous BLComfor practise which saw profits distributed to community groups through an application process.