Friday, September 2, 2011

Grand Forks calling for a Public Commission on Forests

Grand Forks has brought forward a resolution for the 2011 UBCM Convention calling for a public commission on forests.  While I can see the point in knowing more about the state of forestry in BC, I am not entirely certain that a public commission would actually be the right way to go about it.

What is needed is a government re-investment in all manner of research and information gathering on forestry and the forest industry.   We have allowed the on the ground knowledge to become weak and we do not have the sort of ongoing long term research going on.

A public commission is going to be political and the results coming out of it will either be either irrelevant or highly politically charged.  It will actually not achieve what is being called for in the resolution.

Finally, given the place on the agenda, it is not likely this will make it to the floor.

WHEREAS BC communities rely on their forests both as a primary economic driver, and for their ecological and social importance;
AND WHEREAS today there are a number of critical problems in BC’s forests which need to be addressed and resolved, including:
• evidence of declining forest health and expanding understocked forests;
• tens of thousands of forest industry job losses, dozens of mill closures, and serious economic hardship in resource communities across BC;
• widespread frustration among local governments about the lack of local involvement in
decision making on the allocation and management of forest resources;
• after a decade of deep cutbacks, serious doubts about the ability of provincial agencies to effectively manage our forest resources and provide adequate public oversight in the woods;
• the continuing failure to generate maximum value for British Columbians from our forests, as evidenced by the ongoing over-reliance on commodity production, rapidly increasing raw log exports to Asia, and limited growth in the value-added wood products sector;
AND WHEREAS it has been more than two decades since the last significant independent inquiry into the state of BC’s forests:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM call for the Government of BC to establish a public commission of inquiry into BC’s forest sector, in order to:
• offer a considered, independent assessment of the state of BC’s forests and the effectiveness of our current laws and practices;
• provide a much-needed opportunity for significant public input into forest policy in BC; and
• make recommendations for changes that will ensure both the good stewardship of our forests and a vibrant, sustainable forest industry for coming generations.

The Committee notes that in 1990, UBCM members endorsed B41 which called for “a full-scale Royal Commission into forestry, similar to the Sloan and Pearce Commission, in order to accommodate the interests of the people of British Columbia in the 1990s and beyond.”
UBCM members have endorsed a number of resolutions over the years with respect to the concerns raised by the sponsor in the second whereas clause such as forest industry restructuring, job losses, lack of local control of the forest resource, forest health as a result of pine beetles and changes in forest policy and regulations.

While the Province has conducted its own State of the Forests reports this resolution is seeking a public commission of inquiry that would be much more extensive. The Committee has offered no recommendation, as members would welcome direction from the membership as to whether or not a Commission is the route to go to address the present challenges facing the forest sector.

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