Saik’uz First Nation has signed a 10-year timber supply agreement with Nechako Lumber Co. Ltd.
The new deal builds upon a previous 20-year timber supply agreement between Saik’uz First Nation and Nechako Lumber Co. Ltd, which expired in 2018.
“[This agreement] is an example of how we can work together to ensure our economic security regionally,” said Chief Jackie Thomas, Saik’uz First Nation.
Under this agreement, 200,000 cubic metres per year — which is approximately 3,000 logging trucks per year of timber, will be provided to the Nechako Sawmill, according to a Jan. 23 press release.
Thomas said the new fibre supply deal will provide more jobs and services to Saik’uz First Nation. Moreover, it provides more security for their logging company — Tin Toh Forest Products Ltd. The agreement also includes community infrastructure improvements and other benefits that will support social needs of the First Nations community.
Thomas said this deal is going to help fill the gap caused by the current housing shortage. “Initially we were planning on building a band office, but honestly our housing needs are so great in the community that we have changed our mind. Instead of building more community infrastructure we are going to build more housing.”
This deal with Nechako Lumber will include economic benefits, such as housing and building infrastructure development in the community, training and employment of Saik’uz members throughout Nechako Lumber’s mill and forestry operations. Currently, over 25 Saik’uz members work in Nechako’s operations and the deal commits to significantly increase this number, the release said.
Timber production will be at the First Nations logging company in partnership with the Sinclar group, who will provide block planners and people to look into forest stewardship. The deal will ensure the Saik’uz First Nations interests with respect to environmental protection and stewardship and these interests will be respected through stages of planning, timber harvesting and reforestation, stated the release.
“The company is meeting with us before we even do any kind of block layouts, which is the good part of it, so we can plan things better and look at buffer zones and look at the impacts on the landscape level,” said Thomas.
The delivery of fibre under this agreement amounts to approximately 25 per cent of Nechako Lumber’s annual timber supply requirements and provides certainty that the mill will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, stated the release.
Meanwhile, with the previous agreement being 20 years old, Thomas said they made a few changes to include training, push environmental stewardship and get the actual economic value of the timber they provide.
“The economic value is 10 times the cost of timber. This will boost the economy of the Saik’uz First Nation and it helps Vanderhoof and the mill. It’s a win-win situation, that’s what I think of it,” she said.
Nechako Lumber president, Greg Stewart said they “are proud of the relationship we have developed with the Saik’uz First Nation over the past 20 years and we look forward to building on and strengthening that relationship based on mutual trust, respect and benefit.”
Nechako Lumber employs approximately 200 people from Vanderhoof and the Saik’uz First Nation. “The agreement will contribute to increased economic stability for local communities and the many businesses and supplies that Nechako relies on for the operation of the mill,”stated the release.