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Not-for-profit model to make governance of the Beaver Lodge Lands more democratic

Restructuring group wants Beaver Lodge users to participate in the process and the new society
Sandra Milligan with Greenways Land Trust points out some features of the Beaver Lodge Landsduring an interractive walk in the Beaver Lodge Lands. File photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Are you passionate about the Beaver Lodge?

Are you one of the thousands of Campbell Riverites who recreates there? Have you ever wondered how decisions are made about activities here? Do you want to be involved?

Beaver Lodge Forest is unique, set aside as an experimental forest and managed by the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Though used as a park, Beaver Lodge is not a formal “park”; therefore, it lacks the processes used by municipalities or ministries to govern parks. The Beaver Lodge Trust Committee wants to fill that gap by registering as a not-for-profit society to work with the land manager, the FLNRORD Ministry.

In 1931 the land was donated by a forestry company for experimental work in reforestation and forest management. In 1993, the Beaver Lodge Lands Trust Renewal Act was enacted by the BC Legislature to protect this land for that purpose. The Act ensured a Trust Committee was formed to develop the 1994 Resource Use Plan to guide decisions.

Fast forward 25 years, and Beaver Lodge is a recreational hub for thousands of local walkers, runners, dog owners, equestrians, and cyclists. The Trust Committee exists, but unlike not-for-profit societies, the Trust Committee lacks governance essentials like bylaws, AGMS, Strategic Plans, a membership and transparent election of Directors. It created a Governance Subcommittee that developed a process to transition to a society. Registering as a not-for-profit society would allow for the creation of a governance structure to better balance the interests of the public and the natural environment as an experimental research forest.

RELATED: District has big plans for Campbell River’s Beaver Lodge Forest Lands

Long-time member Sandra Milligan is chairing the restructure effort: “A diverse group of people are committed to registering a society, but we want Beaver Lodge users to participate in the process and the new society.”

Committee member and retired forester Steve Lackey adds: “Society registration allows us to elect directors, open a bank account, apply for funding, and make transparent decisions using public feedback.”

Also in the group is Colin Gabelmann, who facilitated creation of the Beaver Lodge in 1993 as MLA for Campbell River and Attorney General.

“It’s become apparent that the structure we devised in 1994 lacked processes to ensure public engagement in the management of the Beaver Lodge. We are taking steps to make the process more democratic,” says Gabelmann.

Ministry staff also support the process and have collaborated with the group since March. Lesley Fettes, District Manager explains: “The Ministry has worked with the Trust Committee since its creation in 1994. We welcome the transition to a registered society that will allow for an enhanced relationship with the Ministry and facilitate even greater public input.”

Once a registered society is created, members will work collaboratively with the ministry to build strategic plans, operational plans, and other governance documents to guide management of the Beaver Lodge for all users.

On Monday, Oct. 18 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. the group welcomes the public to learn more about their vision, and to become involved in the process. The meeting format will allow for simultaneous online participation or in-person attendance at the public meeting to be held at the Sportsplex, Room 1. Sportsplex entry requires vaccination passport and a mask. Due to a room capacity of 60, registration is required. Call Sandra Milligan 250 204-2040 or email to register for the meeting or to receive the link for online participation.

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