A long-awaited community forest agreement with the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake Indian Band has been approved by the provincial government.
B.C.’s minister of forests, land and natural resource operations Steve Thomson made the announcement Friday, saying community forests are an important growing opportunity for regions like the Cariboo.
“They provide opportunities for employment and economic growth while enhancing the working relationships between communities and local First Nations,” Thomson said.
Covering 29,000 hectares the agreement covers two sites: Ne-sextsine, or Flat Rock, which is just west of the city and Peskwenkwinem, or Potato Mountain, which is located between the Likely and Horsefly Roads.
Mayor Kerry Cook said the city is very pleased with the community forest agreement and looks forward to working with the Williams Lake Indian Band to further diversify the local economy and create more business for the entire region.
“It’s a great opportunity for both the city and band to deepen their relationship as business partners and neighbours.”
Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie said the agreement helps the T’exelcemc people achieve their vision of working in unity to strengthen its Secwepemc culture.
“We have a very good relationship with the city and we will continue to work together to build economic opportunities to ensure the sustainability of our local forests,” Louie said.
With a total allowable annual cut on the two sites of 40,000 cubic metres or 800 truckloads of logs, all surplus revenues of the Limited Partnership will be shared equally between the band and the city.
The agreement will be managed by a partnership between the city and the band.
Louie said the band and city are working with community representatives to arrange a public meeting to discuss the community forest.