The Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) has significantly increased its donations to community groups in its 2014/15 financial year compared to previous years.
From Nov. 1, 2014, to Oct. 31, 2015, BLCF donated about $276,000 to local
Donations included $68,000 to the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society; $37,000 to the Burns Lake Search and Rescue; $20,000 to the Lakes District Family Enhancement Society; $20,000 to Francois Lake Elementary School; $20,000 to Decker Lake Elementary School; and $15,000 to the Omineca Ski Club.
Since 2009, donations hadn’t exceed the $100,000 mark. In fact, in 2009 and in 2013, BLCF donated close to $0 to community organizations.
According to Ron Zayac, former Vice-President of Comfor Management Services, increasing community donations was one of the goals of Comfor’s board of directors.
“We put new policy in place that aimed at increasing the donations to the community,” explained Zayac. “We were successful at executing that, but it took a bit of time.”
Since Comfor hadn’t distributed a significant amount of money to the community in several years, Zayac said community groups had stopped asking for money.
“In 2013/14 we had well over $150,000 available to donate, but we donated about $80,000 because people didn’t ask,” he said. “Word slowly got out, and last year we got pretty close to donating the amount budgeted.”
Zayac said that the BLCF didn’t turn any organizations away in 2015.
“If you had a project or a circumstance that fit into the criteria of donations, if you met some basic criteria, we would donate it,” he said.
Comfor’s annual report was recently presented to village council by Jim McCormack, former President of Comfor Management Services.
According to the report, Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Burns Lake Band received approximately $220,000 in donations in the 2014/15 financial year.
During the same period, the Village of Burns Lake also received approximately $220,000.
Zayac explained that Wet’suwet’en First Nation, the Burns Lake Band and the Village of Burns Lake receive the same proportion of money from BLCF every year.
A maximum volume of 900,000 cubic metres can be harvested from 2016 to 2020; therefore, 180,000 cubic metres a year can be harvested for five years.
In 2020, the annual allowable cut (AAC) will drop to 63,000 cubic metres.
Zayac explained that the AAC had increased during the peak years of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, and that the AAC will drop as the infestation slows.
According to the annual report, 177,131 cubit metres were harvested in 2014/15, supplying sawlogs to Fraser Lake Sawmills, Babine Forest Products, Decker Lake Forest Products, Pacific Timber and Sheraton Custom Milling.
The community forest agreement area consists of 92,278.8 hectares.
According to the annual report, BLCF provided 59,537 hours of direct employment, which adds up to 32 full-time jobs, in the 2014/15 financial year.
Total revenue was about $6.1 million, and profit for the year after community donations and partner/shareholder distributions was $388,905.
The Burns Lake Community Forest paid $136,460 in stumpage to the provincial government.
Comfor Management Services Ltd., the parent company of the Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd., was initially created to safeguard the Village of Burns Lake from any losses the Burns Lake Community Forest could potentially incur.