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