Burns Lake council is hoping to expand the boundaries of the Village of Burns Lake to include the approximately 89,000 hectares of the Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF).
Council has requested a meeting with Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, to discuss the matter. The meeting will take place during the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention, from Sept. 26-30, 2016 in Victoria.
Frank Varga, BLCF manager, said a boundary expansion could open provincial funding opportunities that are only available to municipalities.
“And there may be other provincial benefits such as tax exemption or tax collection,” he said.
“The possibilities are endless, you just have to become aware of the opportunities, and take advantage of them,” added Varga. “So I think exploring the idea is how you progress forward.”
Burns Lake councillor John Illes explained that if the municipal boundaries included the BLCF area, the BLCF would automatically become tax exempt.
“Any fully municipally owned company operating within the boundary of that municipality would become tax exempt,” he said.
This could result in more profits that could be shared with the community.
From Nov. 1, 2014, to Oct. 31, 2015, BLCF donated over $280,000 to local organizations, including $68,000 to the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society, $37,000 to the Burns Lake Search and Rescue and $20,000 to the Lakes District Family Enhancement Society.
Council has also requested a meeting with Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, to discuss Burns Lake’s impending shortfall in timber supply.
In 2020, the annual allowable cut of the BLCF is expected to drop to 63,000 cubic metres. After 2020, the BLCF and Chinook Community Forest will represent only a portion of the log supply required to keep Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products operating.
“I was looking at a discussion to get ideas of how the Village of Burns Lake can prepare for a possible loss of economic activity due to a drop in timber supply in the future,” commented Illes.
In addition, councillors have also requested a meeting with Network B.C. to discuss possible improvements to cellphone service in the area.
Councillors have until Aug. 26 to decide if they would like to request any other meetings with ministers or the premier during the upcoming UBCM convention.