A science-based review of land use objectives that does not support opening up the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan is crucial to tackle the mid-term timber supply, says a report from Williams Lake City Council.
Last week council endorsed sending a letter of support for a science-based review to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The review would examine land use objectives associated with old growth management areas, mule deer winter ranges and areas with visual quality objectives.
“In our letter we’re saying in no way does this endorsement mean that the city supports opening up the Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan,” said Mayor Cook.
A science-based review will suggest what could be done, how much timber would be made available and identify risks to achieving stated land use objectives, Chief Administrative Officer Darrell Garceau noted in a report to council.
Garceau said there will be another round of dialogue and consultation once the results of the reviews are released.
“This will give the city an opportunity to have informed discussions with its citizens, neighbouring communities, First Nations and resource stakeholders before making recommendations to the Minister.”
Coun. Laurie Walters fully endorsed the review.
“I don’t think we have anything to lose at this point,” she said. “The facts are there that 70 per cent of this region has the mountain pine beetle infestation and 70 per cent of our region is very forest dependent.”
Coun. Geoff Bourdon said in recent discussions with the ministry and licensees council was told the definition of science-based would also include things like socio-economic impact.
“It is a full analysis of all the impacts so we can actually see both sides of the story and have enough information to make a decision.”
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor, who has worked in the forest industry the last 40 years, said the review will explore options that may have not been explored before.
“I encourage everyone in the community to get out and get involved. Our futures are on the line,” Rathor said. “Williams Lake is no different than any other resource-based community and needs to speak up for itself.”
Unless communities request a review, the ministry has said reviews won’t happen, said Coun. Ivan Bonnell.
“The train’s leaving the station so we might as well get on board and see where it leads us,” he added.
A review is the easy stage, suggested Mayor Kerry Cook.
“It’s when we get the information back that we’ll have to make some tough decisions moving forward.”