The provincial government has begun its public engagement and invite-only engagement sessions over the Interior Forestry Renewal plan. (Black Press Media file photo)

Public input invited on forestry renewal plan

The British Columbia government has invited public feedback on its Interior Forest Sector Renewal process.

The renewal initiative aims to maximize the potential of existing amounts of timber amid the challenges of mountain pine beetle reducing the supply, the impact of wildfires and lower lumber prices.

LOOK BACK: Government launches initiative to renew B.C.’s Interior forestry industry

The feedback period runs from July 18 until Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. and the public can give written submissions and fill out online surveys, according to a Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development news release.

Input is requested on issues including forest tenure and fibre supply; climate change and forest carbon; and fibre and sustainability of timber and non-timber forest values, among others.

The discussion paper can be viewed at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/interiorforestrenewal.

The public engagement comes alongside invite-only engagement sessions for industry, government and First Nations representatives scheduled in communities across the province.

RELATED: Outreach sessions planned for government forestry renewal

The first session was held in Williams Lake on July 18.

READ MORE: First of Interior Forest Sector Renewal meetings kicks off in Williams Lake

The Burns Lake session is scheduled for July 25 in the Gathering Place from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. and in Houston on July 29 from 12 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Some members of the board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) plan to attend sessions in their respective areas, including chairman Gerry Thiessen.

Most directors at the RDBN’s July 18 meeting expressed interest in voicing their opinions and hearing the perspectives of stakeholders at the engagement sessions.

However, Thiessen expressed concern over what the event might entail.

“There better be enough time for some engagement. My concern is if they’re already coming with something they’ve already stamped and approved or processed,” he said.

“This is a five hour meeting? We’re talking five hours on a sector that is the engine of our economy. How is that renewal? And the thing is, I’ve got a thousand questions.”

The government’s Interior forestry renewal plan has faced criticism from some opposition politicians and industry figures.

READ MORE: Forestry Renewal plan misses point, critics say

READ MORE: Forest industry revitalization looks like the opposite

The renewal plan comes too late, said Frank Varga, General Manager of the Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF), and it covers areas that the BLCF has already been working on for two years.

John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes said the renewal initiative – though important – lacks government leadership and puts too much onus on local communities and industry.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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