While I understand the frustration expressed by the proponents of the Williams Lake Community Forest (WLCF), a little more patience is required to ensure that the “community” is truly represented in the management decisions impacting this new area-based tenure.
The largest portion of the land base proposed to be included in the WLCF is located well away from the City of Williams Lake’s municipal boundaries. But, the communities of Big Lake, Miocene and Horsefly all surround and are within the largest of the two blocks proposed to make up the WLCF. These communities do not get to vote for the Williams Lake Mayor and Council, as they are located in the CRD.
While the “Big Lake Block” (which makes up 80 per cent of the proposed WLCF) is within the Williams Lake Indian Band’s (WLIB) traditional territory, the people living around that block, including a number of families that have been there for many generations, do not vote for the chief and council of the WLIB either.
Hence, the root of the current impasse is that the people who actually live around the bulk of the proposed community forest don’t get a vote for either of the councils that make up the legal partnership of the WLCF. That’s why the residents of Big Lake, Miocene and Horsefly are asking for representation on the management board of the proposed WLCF.
Fortunately, the mayor and chief, along with some of their councillors, have agreed to meet directly, for the first time, with the residents of Big Lake, Miocene, Horsefly and 150 Mile House as soon as possible to listen directly to those communities’ concerns. My hope is that the proponents will approach this meeting with an open mind and a willingness to ensure these communities are truly represented in and will benefit from the proposed WL Community Forest.
MLA Cariboo North