The province has been in discussions with stakeholders over four scenarios for the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA) apportionment.
In 2019, the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) of timber for the Burns Lake region was reduced by 41 per cent than the previous AAC however, at that point, the apportionment of the AAC between timber licence holders was yet to be made.
The process of determining the apportionment finally began late last year with the province proposing four possible scenarios for the apportionment. The four scenarios are being proposed as a way for lasting and comprehensive solutions to reconcile First Nations rights, title and interests.
“The province seems to be looking at apportionment as a vehicle for reconciliation. We wholeheartedly support efforts to reconcile and are asking for assurances that as these transitions occur, the stability and viability of all our communities, is maintained,” said Dolores Funk, the mayor for the village of Burns Lake.
The new determination for the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA) as determined in 2019 is at 970,000 cubic metres.
The four scenarios for apportionment
The first scenario is based off the policy scenario set in 2017 and does not allocate any volume to the First Nations. So basically, if the government is to go ahead with scenario 1, the apportionment will be status quo indicating a 158,454 reduction to replaceable forest licences.
The second scenario takes a larger portion from the replaceable forest licences and distributes it between First Nations licences and BC Timber Sales (BCTS).
The third scenario has a 60-20-20 split with 60 per cent allocated for Replaceable Forest licenses, 20 for the BCTS, 20 per cent for First Nation licenses. So in this scenario, the BCTS allocation and the replaceable forest licences allocation is reduced and redistributed to First Nations licences.
The fourth, and the last scenario proposed takes away 80 per cent allocation from the replaceable forest licences and from the BCTS allocation and redistributes it to the First Nations licences.
“The Minister may choose any of the four scenarios, or any other that they determine to be desirable,” said Funk, adding that while it was really early to say how exactly any of the scenarios would impact the region, “scenario 1 represents the least impact to our current operations.”
Next steps in the apportionment discussions
Todd Chamberlain, the general manager of the Interior Logging Association told Lakes District News that the association has sent a letter to Minister Katrine Conroy of the ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), on behalf of its members from Burns Lake, to ask to be made part of the process to determine the allocation.
“We know that the government has been in communication with the First Nations, local governments, licensees but the contracting community was never approached and that’s why we stepped in to the process,” he said.
Since then, the Interior Logging Association has been in conversation with government staff regarding the concerns of the contractors and even have a meeting set with the minister on Mar. 29.
“It’s important when you are dealing with issues such as apportionment, all the stakeholders need to have a voice at the table and the solutions should be at the grassroots level. It’s important to have everyone at the same table to talk about the effects any of this is going to have on them in the hopes that they can come together and come up with a decision that works for everybody,” he said.
Earlier in February, the Burns Lake Mayor had invited the ministry of FLNRORD for an open meeting to discuss the AAC apportionment.
“The purpose was to have further discussion with the province regarding the apportionment scenarios and ensure that the communities concerns are heard,” said the Mayor.
The Burns Lake council is now set to respond to the ministry of FLNRORD with comments on the apportionment by Mar. 31.
“The Village is acting proactively to ensure that we are ready and able to respond to whatever the final apportionment decision looks like. Our hope is that the discussions we are having now will result in a smooth transition and leave us in a stronger economic position over the long-term,” said Funk adding that the final announcement on the apportionment is likely to be made late in 2021.