Macdonald: Forests legislation amendments likely won’t proceed

Amendments to forests legislation is very problematic, says Opposition forests critic, but likely won't get passed before election

Opposition Forestry critic and Columbia River—Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald said the forest legislation amdendments introduced by the provincial government likely won’t get passed prior to the May election.

“If they try to use closure on this one, I tell you, it would be criminal,” Macdonald said of a proposed policy that would allow the conversion of volume-based forest cutting permits to area-based tenures.

Macdonald said the proposed legislation lacked clarity around First Nations and community oversight, and wasn’t something to be rushed through. “You are giving up real property rights when you create a [Tree Farm Licence],” Macdonald said. “You have to be very careful in doing that.”

Macdonald said, adding that as they stood, the proposals had “huge shortcomings on the public interest.” He worried about loss of public input, saying the area-based TFLs could fall under the control of

Macdonald also reacted to the latest provincial budget, saying it ignored the recommendations of a 2012 timber supply committee he participated in. The committee toured the province, gathering over 650 submissions.

Macdonald said a $35 million cut in the ministry budget would hurt silviculture and the ministry’s ability to gather data.

“We have 74 per cent of our land base is working from data that is over 30 years old, and obviously you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” he said. “As Revelstoke knows, there’s no money to involve communities in land use decision-making. We called for all of these things. Not only did the government not move, they chose to cut another $35 million.”

Some environmental groups also reacted to the announcement. Wilderness Committee national campaign director Joe Foy said the creation of more TFLs would make protecting the environment and jobs harder. “If this passes, it will set off a massive privatization of the public’s forest lands as more and more forestry companies roll over their tenures into Tree Farm Licence Agreements,” he said. “This is the biggest change proposed for forestry that I’ve seen in my lifetime – and it’s all bad,” said Foy.