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  2. Minister Donaldson's personal work history, as described on Wikipedia: "With his father working in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Doug Donaldson was born in 1957 at the Canadian Forces' Zweibrücken Air Base in Germany.[1] Donaldson completed a bachelor's degree in Biology and moved to Field, British Columbia where he worked in Yoho National Park for 8 years before leading private guided tours of the area.[2] After completing a Masters in Journalism he had numerous articles published in the Calgary Heraldand The Vancouver Sun but moved to Smithers where he wrote for a local newspaper, The Interior News. He took a job in Prince George with the CBC Morning Show but moved back to the Bulkley Valley area, living in Telkwaas a technologist in the forestry industry before moving to Houston working as a manager at Northwest Community College (later renamed "Coast Mountain College").[3] Finally, Donaldson settled in the village of Hazeltonwhere he became the communications officer for the Gitxsan Treaty Office.[4] In 1992, he starting teaching journalism at the Gitxsan Wet'suwet'en Education Society located in the same village.[5] In 1994, he co-founded the non-profit group Storytellers Foundation which focuses on civic literacy and economic development on the community-level.[3]" There's no mention of Donaldson ever having been "president of COFI".
  3. Today
  4. Posted July 4, 2020 Reflections as the pendulum swings between hope and hopelessness. Go to story
  5. Yesterday
  6. July 4, 2020 Reflections as the pendulum swings between hope and hopelessness. THE CONFIDENT RESILIENCE that I felt just a month ago in the face of this near-unprecedented pandemic has started giving away to the occasional wobble. It began subtly enough, with small ephemeral anxieties that suddenly took to hovering overhead, and a vague irritability, directed mostly at myself, for playing too close to the pendulum swinging between hope and hopelessness and occasionally getting knocked in the head. At first it was easy enough to stay positive. Adrenalin drove our preparations; it all felt a bit surreal, and indeed it was. This was our opportunity—in tandem with the masses—to practise resilience and self-sufficiency. We baked, gardened, stayed cocooned, and felt grateful for our resources. Across the country people did the same. Puzzles, seeds, gardening supplies, bicycles, knitting supplies, pantry staples and home renovation products all flew off the shelves. It almost seemed as if we were reaching back in time for help with the present. In the author’s neighbourhood, this Lochside Trail sculpture appeared to encourage cyclists and others On our street, people were unfailingly kind: I’m thinking of the many offers of help we exchanged back and forth, the easy and encouraging chats over the fence, the safely distanced cul-de-sac concert that brought everyone together, and the sweet little painted stone I found on my doorstep one day, its liquid-bright colours exuding reassurance. As a region, we pulsed with ingenuity. Local manufacturers retooled their systems and began producing hand sanitizer and face shields for health care workers, and ventilators for a possible worst-case scenario. Suddenly you could chat with your doctor by phone, and your pharmacist could authorize your prescription refill. Grocers invented new ways to shop. Almost everything local could be ordered online and delivered to your door. Businesses, struggling through a marathon of uncertainty and debt, came up with creative adaptations once restrictions were somewhat eased. Jam Café on Herald Street, for example, hung clear shower curtains between the tables as a low-cost, low-tech way of keeping diners safer without making the space claustrophobic. The University of Victoria transformed a parking lot into a drive-in theatre, a perfect, everything-old-is-new-again antidote for our times. And then there was the patchwork quilt of emergency relief programs, each announced daily over several weeks by the federal government. Billions of dollars were quickly distributed among millions of Canadians and our identity as a civilized and compassionate society was duly reinforced. But there’s no denying the quilt’s awkward, and no doubt costly, inefficiency. We are in the midst of several astounding crises: a pandemic that is nowhere near finished with us; inequity that keeps rising to new all-time highs; societal divisiveness that threatens to turn us into each other’s enemies; and climate change that looms over everything as the most urgent and lethal threat of all. What we really need is a daring reset involving some complex and multi-pronged solutions. One is the Guaranteed Annual Income. If ever there was an opportunity to give serious traction to this concept—which has twice been pilot-tested in Canada with notably positive results, and twice been mothballed by partisan politics—this is it. This is our chance to move away from a tradition of ineffective, compartmentalized aid for all the persistent miseries—child poverty being one—to real and lasting equity in an efficient and streamlined program that leaves no one behind. And if ever there is a time to at least consider promoting a four-day workweek as a way to begin shifting the emphasis from “having more” to “living better,” surely this is it. After the initial pocketbook panic, we might be able to envision the possibility of a better work/life balance focused less on the hamster wheel of earning and spending, and more on the benefit of extra time for self and family. We might come to understand the often-inverse correlation between time and money, and that it isn’t always money that leaves us feeling more enriched. Can we change? We must. Every day I hope we will have the courage and resolve to do so, and to see each other through the undoubtedly rocky transition that must come first. On other days, I’m not so sure. It seems like a long shot, given our checkered record for compromise and getting along. On those days I lay low and keep my head away from the pendulum. I go outdoors and lean on nature for strength and solace. Then I come back in and carry on. Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic is a writer, Master Gardener and proud new grandmother. Her books include People in Transition and Ernie Coombs: Mr Dressup (both from Fitzhenry & Whiteside).
  7. the 2018 profits of the four biggest forestry companies in "BC" was over 800 million dollars, (this stat is from herb hammonds excellent presentation at the forestry summit held in nelson last october, available on youtube). (Interfor: 111.7 million, Canfor: 221.8 million, Canfor Pulp: 89.5 million, West Fraser: 378 million, Total of just these 4 corporations: 801 million) We should never under-estimate the power of corruption to write bad public policy, especially when it has a long history of being embedded in the state (ie, current minister of forests is. "Touch Wood", an excellent book about forestry in bc published in 1992, writes about a scandal caused when it became impossible to hide the fact that politicians were taking bribes in return for issuing tree farm licenses. this resulted in a commission, a report, the defeat of the so-cred government, bla bla bla - but, if we look at the facts today, do you think things have changed? As an example of this type of institutionalized 'state capture', the current Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Minister is former president of COFI (council of forest industries), one of the major groups that lobbies on behalf of the industry. The regional log sort in Vernon was shut down precisely BECAUSE it was too successful, and therefore posed a threat, at least according to the people empolyed by the MOF to set it up . If anyone in government really cared about employment, they would ban clearcutting and have all logging carried out by community forests and/or worker's cooperative and focus on value added manufacturing (800 million dollars adds up to 10,000 jobs paying $80,000 a year if the money was being spent on wages instead of sending profits to corporate shareholders, for example)
  8. Last week
  9. Yes, this is the threatened variety. In BC, recent sightings are only from a few locations in the CRD.
  10. I had an encounter with royalty last week. A few of these royal rein orchids (Plantathera transversa) were blooming in View Royal's Edwards Park. They're also known as flat-spurred piperia. According to the BC Conservation Data Centre, they're on the Yellow list of at-risk plants, which means that they aren't very common in our area. That's probably why I haven't seen them before.
  11. Very interesting research on the actual cost of forestry to BC - about 1 Million a day in the last 10 years. Puts to rest the propaganda of the forest industry and the BC government about how forestry is essential to our economy. Forestry is in dire need of a remake - putting our forests in the hands of local forest companies, lowering the "allowable" annual cut, doing much more value added, and ending raw log exports. This would result in sustainable forestry jobs and halt mill closures, the ability to end logging old growth and original forest which would combat climate change, lower biodiversity loss, and reduce forest fire risk.
  12. Ministry of Forests Annual Service Reports include the category of cost "Fire Management" and those costs have been included in my analysis. Keep in mind that a high priority in fire management is protection of commercial timber. The other sources of cost that you mention are attributable to logging operations, and any serious effort by the Province to revamp our relationship with forests should include an accounting of those costs. We might also want a better understanding of how much of the cost of the Ministry of Environment's operations is a consequence of forest industry operations.
  13. Because the government is grossly inefficient and has put itself in a beauacratic nightmare does not mean we subsidized companies. The small buiz program is a disaster and had been since they went to sealed bids. The government tells the companies where to go and everyone said e.b.m. would save forestry well you seem to hafe proved e.b.m. is not viable and maybe they need to let some peeps with bush experience run the show.
  14. The Victoria Mapping Project: native animal species The Victoria Mapping Project is recording observations of native animals by municipality. To see the maps of observations, click on one of the links below. City of Victoria Oak Bay Saanich and View Royal
  15. Thank you for this well-researched piece. It seems pretty damning. Curious to hear the Ministry response.
  16. Submission to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, Budget 2021 Consultation From: Amalgamation Yes, Victoria, BC June 25, 2020 The Province of BC has constitutional responsibility for the well being of its residents. TheCommunity Charter delegates responsibility to local government for the delivery of a wide range of community services, such as water, waste and recycling collection, roads, parks, public safety, etc. However, the Province still retains a vested interest as to how well these obligations are delivered at the local and regional level. The Greater Victoria area serves as both the Provincial Capital and gateway to Vancouver Island, and generates special expectations as to how well it performs in relation to the social and economic expectations of the Province. In the case of the Capital Region District, with 13 separate municipalities, the quality of those service depends on how well they co-operate. Currently the Province has, in various ways, expressed its concerns about the failure of these municipalities to achieve some of their shared expectations. These include:  General efficiency of local government and effective service delivery at reasonable costs, particularly as reflected in the escalation of general levels of taxation  Increasing costs of local governments and salaries paid to municipal officials and staff, which create competitive pressure for provincial agencies  Mobility, in the context of urban traffic and the negative economic and environmental effects of congestion on regional and provincial travel patterns, and access links to airports, ferries that constrict flow of goods and tourists  Frustration over the slow response to the housing crisis, particularly the shortage of social housing and market supply  Failure of regional economic planning to stimulate and facilitate business investment and employment, and provide space and service for commercial and technical business opportunities. Amalgamation Yes is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about governance reform for municipalities in the Capital Region District (CRD)  Growing awareness of consequences of natural events and disasters, e.g. earthquakes, fires, floods or health pandemics that do not recognize municipal boundaries. The need for a co-ordinated response to mitigate the impacts of climate change have reinforced the recognition of that reality and the need for readiness response to emergencies.  Failure to acknowledge the reality of the modern world requires new policy approaches necessary to respond to international and technology crime. Currently criminals live in one location, commit crimes in another, and live in yet another. In much of the Province the Regional District model works well as means to plan and deliver local services, particularly water supply, sewerage treatment and landfill – all best organized and financed at regional scale. And it provides a means to organize and fund services to residents of unorganized rural areas and small communities. The majority of BC regions have one large community of 30,000 - 80,000 residents, with the remainder of residents of smaller towns and villages spread throughout the region. These are examples of how the Regional District model works well. In such cases the largest community serves as the regional centre for hospitals, colleges, airports, etc. (e.g. Kelowna, Cranbrook, Kamloops, Nanaimo) Current Situation in Greater Victoria Area The Capital Region (CRD), and the Lower Mainland, are polycentric, with 95% of the urban population clustered with common municipal boundaries and bulk of the region as rural forest or farmland. The CRD urban cluster is distributed between 13 municipalities (9 with populations of 15,000 – 35,000, two with under 5,000, and two with 92,000 and 120,000 respectively). All members of the CRD Board are appointed by their respective councils, but first elected as municipal officials. So there is no local leader who speaks for the region. The Mayor of Victoria represents only 92,000 of the 400,000 regional residents. The strength and weakness of the Regional District model is that the regional authority can only expand its mandate and assume leadership and responsibility for service delivery with consent of each municipal council. But each member municipality also has veto power, and in that sense localism triumphs over matters of common regional importance and Provincial interests are not dealt with. In the CRD case, 13 is too many. Attempts at Reform The results of the 2014 non binding referendum in 7 municipalities confirmed strong public support (75%) for a review of municipal governance, but municipal leaders simply ignored this advice from the electorate. Also, a 2014 Angus Reid poll reported 84% in favour of governance review. It was only after a repeated expression of voter support in the 2018 election that Councils for Victoria and Saanich agreed to jointly proceed with a Citizens' Assembly (CA) process. Concurrently, in 2017 the Province initiated its own review. The release of the Capital Integrated Services and Governance Initiative (CISGI) report documented the morass of Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) arrangements, about half via the CRD and another as inter- municipal only. This confirmed that instead of actual co-ordination and formal integrated service delivery agreements, the region is dependent on 400 informal arrangements – a complex, tedious and voluntary process with no public accountability. While the CISGI report provided a useful catalogue of possibilities, it fell short of identifying priorities and any recommendation to rectify the situation when separate municipal jurisdictions simply refuse to cooperate on what are obvious instances where a joint regional approach would be more effective and efficient. Evidence of failures within the Capital Region As currently structured, the regional model does not meet Provincial objectives for integrated transportation, rationale land use, co-ordinated emergency service delivery, climate change mitigation, economic development, and particularly to facilitate housing supply. There is ample evidence that elected municipal leaders in the Capital Region have NOT been able to develop cohesive voice in critical matters. In the past three years, the Province has had to intervene and lead the planning process and identify policies and priorities for action to resolve local political impasses over such critical issues as:  sewerage treatment  the Mckenzie overpass  the South Island Transportation Plan (pending) These actions by the Province confirm that the Regional District model is not working well and some reform is necessary. Other instances include:  Daily evidence of serious transportation issues that restrict not only daily commuter traffic within the city, but also hampers public, commercial and tourist access to ferries, airport, etc. The parochial municipal members of the CRD Board have defeated attempts to provide leadership for transportation planning.  Several municipalities refuse to accept responsibility to add to housing supply and particularly social housing.  In the Region there are 7 police chiefs and at least 15 fire chiefs. Progress was being made toward co-ordination of a CRD regional emergency dispatch, but several municipalities refused to participate.  There are 7 separate recreation departments, and funding responsibility for regional arts centres is mainly the burden of the City of Victoria. Possible Solutions and Recommendations We urge the Committee include in its report: Assert that Provincial social and economic interests and strategic objectives for Vancouver Island require municipal reform of the regional/municipal model and recommend Provincial leadership in support of policy and institutional changes:  CRD Board with members elected as regional representatives  expand the mandate of regional service delivery to include emergency dispatch, policing and transportation planning Confirm that Provincial funding in Ministry of Community Affairs is adequate to facilitate initiatives in support of municipal reform specifically to:  ensure funding is available to support the Citizen Assembly process for Victoria and Saanich  provide municipal restructuring grants It is notable that implementation of the above would not require dramatic amendments to theCommunity Charter nor forced amalgamations. It would only require an amendment to the Letters Patent of the CRD to add service delivery functions to the required mandate, and minor legislative change to amend the voting structure of the Board. For confirmation of successful alternative arrangements, we refer you to the Waterloo Regional Municipality of Ontario and its roles and responsibilities. This region of approximately 600,000 includes the three separate cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, each with an urban downtown and municipal council. The Waterloo Regional Board has a directly elected Chair and regional councilors, along with a provision for membership of the mayors. The Region is responsible for police services, public transit, water supply, landfill, transportation, etc. Most notable is that in 2019 this region commenced operation of a regional light rapid transit system that connects the downtowns, hospitals and universities, among other destinations. A remarkable achievement for such small city. Respectfully submitted, Jim Anderson, Chair Amalgamation Yes 250.477.8255 anderson.jd@shaw.ca amalgamateyes@gmail.comwww.amalgamationyes.ca
  17. The British Columbia Minister of Finance invited all residents of the Province to submit their thoughts and ideas on the 2021 Budget to the Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services. For your information, Amalgamation Yes has made the following submission on the need for governance reform in the Capital Region, and to ensure funding is provided to the upcoming Saanich—Victoria Citizens' Assembly process.
  18. For 40 years the MoF timber harvesting bid system has also excluded smaller forest companies who leave less slash waste to be burned and create more local jobs. It seems to be rigged with deals made between the big operators in the backroom about who will bid on each timber supply area. What can we expect when the MoF timber harvesting bureaucracy is made up from industry RPFs who bounce back and forth from industry to government to industry as they climb the forestry career ladder in their own personal interest?
  19. Juan de Fuca Forest Watch is a facebook group of active south Island members dedicated to ending the desecration of our forests at the hands of timber barons feeding real estate moguls. We are pushing for A MORATORIUM on OLD-GROWTH LOGGING & CLEARCUTTING and we are FOR a COMPLETE OVERHAUL of our the approach to "management" of our forests. Please find us at JdF Forest Watch and join us to keep up on local forestry info and how you can help end the unsustainable deforestation taking place now, here on Vancouver Island, and across BC.
  20. The province must be allowing the financial losses for a reason. Is it because under FIPA, The Foreign Investment protection and Promotion Agreement, ratified between Canada and China under Stephen Harper, has BC in a stranglehold? Sell China our best trees or else China will sue the pants off of the BC.
  21. And poof! just like that the myth of the economic viability of the forest industry goes up in smoke! Thanks, Dave Broadland. It is time to view our forests not as feedstock but as living ecological entities where environmental, economic, social and cultural values can be played out. Wildwood Ecoforest is a small demonstration forest where we harvest selectively and work within a framework similar to Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics. People will pay to come and experience magnificent forests and old growth. They won’t pay to see clear cut. There is a better way to steward our forests. Let’s get on with it.
  22. Thank you David Broadland for exposing the enduring myth that the BC forest industry "pays the bills". It does not, and has not for decades. Many of us that care about forestry and the forests of B.C. have repeatedly made this point but, to my recollection, no one has made the point for public consumption as well and as thoroughly as you have. I shall keep this article as a handy reference to be quoted again and again.
  23. We should all thank David Broadland of Focus Magazine for his diligent research to provide these 2010 - 2019 financial performance facts to the people of BC. This task is especially difficult since the Province stopped publishing the Forest Service Annual Reports in 2003. To repeat Broadland… “Over the past 10 years, it cost British Columbians $365 million per year, on average, to allow forest companies to log publicly-owned forests.” That is a $1 million loss per day. Staggering, no one in BC should be in support of that? And this number doesn’t even take into account many of the forestry related costs of flood repairs, wildfire fighting, water treatment plants wildlife restoration, tourism loss,misign salmon, all attributed to poor or unmonitored forestry land management practices. Many retired civil servants and foresters have tried repeatedly to get the NDP to resume publication of this important report. How can we run a business if we don’t know our status? BC needs to stop doing what is not working and continuously improve what is, we also need to stop the fake news and forestry propaganda, govt , industry and communities all KNOW it is not working, it is negligence to continue to do the wrong thing at the costs of floods, dirty water, caribou, old growth , tourism jobs, climatge change and biodiversity…. And still the Council of Forest Industry is demanding a protected ‘working forest land base’ across BC exclusively for logging purposes, well seems to me they have had that for the past 50 years and look where it has taken us!
  24. Posted July 2, 2020 Some Metchosin residents feel plagued by neighbours who use their properties as dumping grounds for construction waste—and a council that takes little action. Go to story
  25. Some rural residents feel plagued by neighbours who use their properties as dumping grounds for construction waste—and a council that takes little action. DAY AFTER DAY, for almost a decade, dump trucks have rolled onto a rural property in Metchosin to drop off piles of fill, changing the topography and driving copious complaints from neighbours exasperated by the industrial intrusion. Now, next door neighbour Jo-Anne Cote is hoping that, instead of trying to survive another summer of noise and dust, an order from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALR) to stop the fill dumping will offer respite. Cote said enjoyment of the acreage where she and her husband have lived for 34 years has been marred by activities at the neighbouring Sooke Road property—which she describes as “Mordor,” the volcanic plain from The Lord of the Rings. “It’s a dust bowl,” Cote said, describing how problems started when all the trees and shrubs were removed, ostensibly to build an airstrip to help with a farm operation about 10 years ago. Satellite image of the Cosburn property in Metchosin An application by owner Stan Cosburn then morphed into a plan for a turf farm. In 2011 the Agricultural Land Commission and District of Metchosin granted permits to dump fill on 2.7 hectares within the Agricultural Land Reserve and 3.6 hectares outside the ALR to improve farming capability. As construction in neighbouring Langford heated up, the trucks started arriving. But over the years, there has been no sign of a turf farm. “I finally came to the snapping point a year or so ago,” said Cote. “The noise was driving me insane all summer long…all you are hearing is heavy equipment and dump trucks and the beep-beep-beep of reversing vehicles and the squeaky bulldozer.” She was frustrated by the apparent lack of action despite numerous complaints. The 2011 turf farm notice-of-intent permit, which allowed the filling, expired July 2019 and, after Cosburn requested an extension and submitted a business plan, ALC staff visited the site in March. “There is no turf farm there now and they were still filling,” said Avtar Sundher, ALC director of operations. “The request for an extension was declined on April 9 this year and we told them to cease all fill activities on the ALR portion of the property and then to reclaim the site with a reclamation plan by a professional agrologist,” he said. The remediation plan must be submitted by July 31, and, if the plan is approved, work must be underway by October 31, said Sundher. Meanwhile, the municipality of Metchosin is looking at fitting the non-ALR portion of Cosburn’s property into the remediation plans so the entire area can be topped off with soil. Cosburn could not be contacted, but his application to the ALC describes the fill as “clean mineral soil and suitable organic matter” and, according to the municipality, he has abided by regulations. Since 2011 plans for the turf farm have been overseen by Madrone Environmental Services Ltd, a company hired by Cosburn. Soil deposit regulations have changed over the last two years as Metchosin, in common with other municipalities close to areas of rampant development, has tried to control amounts of fill—which usually consists of stumps, rocks and other material removed for building sites. “We are trying to tighten up our bylaws to negate some of the issues we have had in the past. We have had a lot of illegal dumping in general, but we have been trying to put the brakes on it,” said Councillor Sharie Epp. Construction waste, which can include material such as drywall, nails, asbestos or wiring is supposed to be taken to Hartland Landfill, but Metchosin residents fear it is sometimes ending up in unregulated dumps running under the radar. Adding to the suspicion that construction companies do not always follow the rules, piles of garbage bags of construction waste, which tested positive for asbestos, were dumped around the municipality earlier this year, leaving Metchosin on the hook for $5,000 in clean-up costs. Recently Metchosin changed the bylaw that used to allow each property owner to bring in 2,000 cubic metres of fill (soil, gravel, rock, sand), reducing it to a maximum of 250 cubic metres a year or 500 cubic metres on larger properties, and all requests for large deposits must go through council. Eighty cubic meters of fill can still be brought in without a permit if it’s not in the ALR or other sensitive areas. There are also fees attached. A deposit of 250 cubic metre of clean fill would cost $525. However, Metchosin is a small municipality with limited staff. Like other small municipalities, its bylaw services are complaint driven and contracted to the Capital Regional District. With many large properties hidden from view, getting a grip on dumping is a game of whack-a-mole and some Metchosin residents believe the District has become a convenient place to dispose of development debris cheaply. The ALC order is a small victory for neighbours of the Sooke Road property, but some say it represents only the tip of a fill-dumping iceberg. Friction between those who live in Metchosin because of the green, rural environment and “free-thinkers” who want to live in an area where they believe they can do whatever they want on their own property is at the root of much of the conflict that ends up on the desks of Metchosin councillors. Nicole Shukin, a member of metchosinH2O, an “adhoc, but very active, group of environmentally-minded citizens,” said council seems reluctant to act, even when faced with evidence of illegal activities. “Residents who’ve been submitting formal complaints about illegal dumping have seriously lost confidence in our district’s willingness or ability to enforce its bylaws in a manner that would deter, rather than enable, large-scale and ongoing violations,” she said. Shukin described a shadow industry forcing the rural community to deal with unauthorized clearcutting, trucks using roads not designed for industrial use, and fears that wells and aquifers are being contaminated by construction waste that has not been inspected to ensure it is clean fill. “Literally mountains are being blasted to bits in Langford and it needs to go somewhere and it seems to be filling up the gullies and lowlands in many areas of Metchosin,” Shukin said. Ken Farquharson, vice-president of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin noted that one problem is that the dumping will sometimes go on for years before council acts and the changed landscape is then accepted as un fait accompli. Councillor Andy MacKinnon, a biologist and forest ecologist, said council is addressing complaints, “but not to the satisfaction of residents.” Much of the action is in camera, he explained, because the problems deal with specific individuals and property issues. “But I do share the frustration of a lot of the residents in terms of what can be done in some of these situations. Rewriting the bylaws was an attempt to make it simpler to monitor and prosecute, but most of the infractions that have raised people’s ire are with people who simply pay no heed to the bylaws whatsoever,” MacKinnon said. Prosecutions, he noted, apart from the cost, require an extremely high standard of proof. “You can write better bylaws and, if people follow them you will get better practice, but if people pay no heed, it doesn’t matter whether your bylaws are good or not; it becomes difficult and expensive and uncertain to enforce,” he said. Shukin is a resident of La Bonne Road where neighbours complained for eight years about dumping on a property on Ash Mountain that is now the subject of legal action by the District. Private property on La Bonne Road on which fill has been dumped The La Bonne Road Residents Group, in a synopsis of complaints lodged with council between 2012 and 2016, list problems from illegal tree-cutting and unauthorized construction of greenhouses, to the dumping of “an estimated 10,000 cubic metres of soil mixed with construction debris, garbage, drywall.” In 2018, after the dumping on the property was halted, the gully was covered with boulders, and the municipality conducted soil testing on the property because of concerns by nearby residents that the aquifer and wells had been contaminated. Due to legal proceedings, however, lawyers say the results cannot be released. Legally, if tests revealed environmental concerns or health threats to nearby residents, they would have to be informed, said a spokesperson. Accepting fill can be lucrative for landowners who want to fill in gullies or flatten hills, with prices to dump clean fill ranging from $5 to $7 per cubic yard. And if property owners are willing to accept under-the-table demolition material, the savings on dump fees are substantial. A 2019 study conducted for Vancity found a dump truck load of mixed construction waste can cost between $1,100 and $1,400 to dispose of legally, but that some property owners are accepting loads for a $200 payment “despite the threat of fines that can reach as high as $10,000.” Mayor John Ranns said the concerns of some vocal residents do not reflect the current reality and bylaw changes mean there are now fewer problems with soil dumping—both legal and illegal—than in previous years. “It’s very frustrating. We do have illegal dumping, but not much. We have made numerous revisions to the soil deposit bylaw and, at the moment, it’s pretty much being adhered to,” he said. “There isn’t anything contaminated. It all has to be checked and verified now by qualified professionals. It has to meet proper profiles and we have to see the weighbill,” he said. Also, some property owners have created good farmland because soil has been brought in to fill gullies and top off rough forestland, added Ranns. “It’s not that all soil deposits are bad, it is just that there have been one or two people that have taken advantage of it,” he said. The issue could surface again over a 50-hectare Sooke Road property where an application last year for a soil recycling facility for up to 15,000 cubic metres of soil brought opposing residents out in force. The application for a Temporary Use Permit has been dropped, but, if the idea is resurrected, Ranns anticipates that residents could be asked to consider amenities, such as potential parkland with a soil recycling plant, versus private 10-acre lots. The property had a history of illegal dumping and, in 2016, a large fire was set in an effort to clean up the mess. That means a lot of suspicion has been generated, Ranns admitted, but the proponent, Brian Baker of Tri-X Excavating, has pointed out that material now coming onto the property is clean fill and it would be a waste to landfill it. “He’s going to be applying for industrial zoning on this property. He wants to do things legally,” said Ranns. “You can run it through a screener and then resell it. To me soil recycling is something that is quite badly needed in this region,” he said. Which comes back to how developers deal with rubble and soil from building sites—a question the ALC frequently faces near high development areas like Langford. “When you look at all the development in the area, digging into the ground for basements, there is all that dirt,” Sundher of the ALC said; “Wherever there is construction, especially residential or high rise buildings, there’s a big hole that is excavated and all that soil needs to go somewhere.” Judith Lavoie is an award-winning journalist specializing in the environment, First Nations, and social issues. Twitter @LavoieJudith
  26. Posted July 2, 2020 Over the past 10 years, it cost British Columbians $365 million per year, on average, to allow forest companies to log publicly-owned forests. Go to story
  27. until
    A series of felt and mixed media sculptures describe a world of mysterious creatures and half-familiar places. Open weekends noon to 5 p.m. at arc.hive artist run centre. Physical distancing measures in effect with one person/bubble in the gallery at a time. Visitors will be able to visit the main gallery only, washrooms and studios will be closed.
  28. July 3, 2020 Over the past 10 years, it cost British Columbians $365 million per year, on average, to allow forest companies to log publicly-owned forests. Most of BC’s “working forest” is now a giant patchwork of logging roads, clearcuts and young, fire-vulnerable plantations. For that dubious environmental result, BC citizens are paying more to manage the destruction than they receive in direct payments from forest companies for the wood extracted. ONE OF THE GREAT ENDURING MYTHS told about BC’s forest industry is that “forestry pays the bills, folks.” Those are the exact words a Vancouver Sun reader used recently to dismiss a report by three BC forest scientists that urged the provincial government to put an immediate moratorium on further logging of large, old-growth trees. That reader’s view? No can do. Forestry pays the bills. The Sun reader didn’t say whose bills; perhaps forestry pays his bills. But this rationale—that the forest industry is of such great economic importance to BC that nothing should be done to disturb its operations—has been used for decades as proof that any change in direction on public forest policy would be foolhardy. That may have been true 40 years ago, but those days are long gone. Over the past 10 years, for example, the cost to the public purse of managing BC’s publicly-owned forests has exceeded all direct revenue collected from the forest industry by $3.65 billion. BC taxpayers are, on average, providing a subsidy of $365 million each year to forest companies that operate in BC. That figure of $3.65 billion is derived from publicly available accounts published by the Province of BC. Those accounts show that, on the revenue side, BC collected $6.41 billion in stumpage between 2009 and 2019. It also collected about $300 million through the BC Logging Tax. Together they produced revenue of $6.71 billion. On the expense side, figures published in annual Ministry of Forests Service Plan Reports over those 10 years show total expenditures of $10,363,595,000. That works out to an accumulated loss of $3,652,460,667. Forestry doesn’t pay the bills, folks. Perhaps one of the reasons this basic fact about the forest industry—that it doesn’t pay the bills—is widely misunderstood by the BC public is that detailed accounts of forest-related revenue and expenses for a given year never appear in the same document, at least not in public. Determining these numbers would be a daunting task for any curious citizen. For example, to obtain a detailed account of stumpage revenue collected by the Province over the past 10 years, Focus needed to download and sort through 3,617,486 lines of data from the Ministry of Forests’ Harvest Billing System. There are, of course, other gauges of the economic benefits generated by the forest industry that ought to be considered in an examination of the claim that “forestry pays the bills, folks.” The forest industry—which includes forestry, logging and support industries, pulp and paper manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing—has long trumpeted its contribution to this province’s exports. The value of those exports, of course, belongs to the forest companies that produce them, and there’s nothing to prevent those companies from investing profits from those exports outside of BC. Vancouver-based Canfor, for example, recently announced majority acquisition of Vida Group, a Swedish forest products company. Canfor has also invested in Alberta, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas. With the globalization of BC forest companies, we just don’t know whose bills are being paid by raw log and wood product exports. A more reliable indicator of the overall economic importance of the forest industry to BC is its contribution to the provincial GDP. For the eight years between 2012 and 2019, according to BC Stats, the economic contribution of the forest industry accounted for an average of 2.6 percent of provincial GDP. That includes all the road-building, felling of forests, transportation of logs to mills and log export facilities, and all the milling into wood products at lumber, panel, pulp, and paper mills. In each of those eight years, the annual growth in overall provincial GDP—none of which came from the forest industry—was larger than the entire output of the forest industry. Over those eight years, the forest industry’s contribution to GDP shrank 25 percent. By 2019 it accounted for only 2.1 percent of provincial GDP. Not only does the forest industry not pay the bills, its economic importance to the health of the provincial economy is getting smaller and smaller each year. This trend is evident in employment statistics, too. In 2000, according to BC Stats, there were 100,400 people employed in the forest industry. Those jobs accounted for 5.2 percent of BC’s labour force. By 2019, that had dropped to 46,100 jobs, or 1.8 percent of all jobs. If that rate of decline continues, the remaining jobs will be gone by 2031. To keep those 46,100 jobs going, the Province has provided the forest industry exclusive access to 25 million hectares of British Columbia. At current employment levels, that works out to 5.42 square kilometres of publicly-owned working forest for each forest-industry job. The records Focus obtained from the forest ministry’s Harvest Billing System allowed us to determine the actual cut and compare that with the official Allowable Annual Cut. The data shows a 22 percent drop in the actual cut in 2019 as compared with the average cut over the previous nine years. This decline occurred before the coronavirus emerged and, given the global recession that’s been triggered by the virus, the amount of forest cut in 2020, and the number of people supported by that cut, are likely to reach historic lows. A comparison of the reported volume harvested in the first six months of 2020 with the same period in 2019 showed a 21 percent drop across the province (down 27 percent in coastal BC). The troubled future many British Columbians have imagined would one day afflict BC’s forest industry has now arrived. The sustained losses to the public purse from the current management regime for publicly-owned forests might provide ammunition for those who would privatize the land base dedicated to logging. But there are good indicators that, after decades of over-exploitation of public forests, managing BC’s forests primarily for timber extraction is a money-losing proposition. TimberWest and Island Timberlands, through Mosaic, their joint business management unit, have recently claimed that the value of logs in the BC market doesn’t even cover the cost of logging. TimberWest and Island Timberlands want to export more raw logs offshore in order to make money. To get what they want they have curtailed their operations until the federal and provincial governments acquiesce, putting hundreds of workers in small communities out of work. If timber extraction in BC has become such a marginally-profitable business, what would happen if the working-forest land base was privatized and there were no controls on what could be done with the wood extracted? Where is the public interest benefit in that direction? A change that would be more beneficial to the public interest is suggested by data Focus downloaded from the Ministry of Forest’s Harvest Billing System. For 2017, 2018 and 2019, we compared the value per cubic metre obtained by BC Timber Sales with that obtained from area-based tenures such as those held by TimberWest and Island Timberlands. BC Timber Sales uses a process of competitive auctions to market wood from public forests. Area-based tenures were established in the mid-20th century as a way of encouraging large forest companies to build mills in BC. Many of those mills have since closed and there is now no requirement for area-based tenure holders to operate manufacturing facilities to process wood logged from their tenures. For all of BC for those three years, BC Timber Sales obtained an average value of $37.33 per cubic metre. The average value collected from area-based tenures was $13.32 per cubic metre, a third of what BCTS collected. Ending area-based tenures and expanding competitive auction of publicly-owned forests seems to be a much more certain way to protect the public interest, at least as far as the economic value of logs is concerned. With an ever-increasing area of BC lying bare, stripped of forest by clearcut logging and clearcut-and-plantation fires—both contributing heavily to the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse—perhaps now would be a good time to envision a less destructive, more ecologically-enlightened relationship between humans and what remains of the forests of British Columbia. David Broadland is spending the pandemic learning more about the forest he lives in and discovering the plants and creatures he shares it with. He can be contacted at focuspublish@shaw.ca.
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