City weighs risk of community forestry

The city will consider its involvement in a risky business within two weeks

The city will consider its involvement in a risky business within two weeks.

A committee tasked by the city to analyze the forest industry in Campbell River presented council Tuesday night with a recommendation to apply for a community forest.

Nigel Ross, chair of the Future Forestry Task Force, said a community forest can be a viable business but warned there is also the potential to lose money.

“Community Forests can offer many benefits to a town but there are risks involved in running any business,” Ross said.

Community Forests are located on provincial land and are leased by a community for terms of 25 years, with a renewable option every 10 years. The lessee decides when, where and what to log and who to sell the logs to but does not necessarily choose where the community forest may be located.

“Typically it’s area-based and there’s a map and inside the lines is your licence area, your forest to manage,” Ross said.

He added the city and the Ministry of Forest would discuss together where to have the community forest should the city apply for one.

Ross said the geography of the forest is one of the biggest factors in whether or not the community forest would be profitable.

“The profitability is directly linked to the location,” Ross said. “A good location with high quality timber means there’s a better chance for profit.”

He said the return on a community forest would depend on the city’s objectives.

“You have to decide why you want it,” Ross told council. “Maybe it’s to make a maximum profit or if it’s in the community watershed, maybe the objective is to protect the water.”

Coun. Claire Moglove said it seemed premature to apply for a community forest now when the city has not yet laid out any objectives, or a budget.

“There’s no business plan or budget yet, wouldn’t that come first?” Moglove asked. “To me it’s almost a catch-22. As a councillor, I’d only want the community forest for its profitability but we can’t know if that would be the case until after we’ve prepared a budget and then hear what the location would be.”

Coun. Andy Adams said he was also “struggling to support” the recommendation without having a preliminary plan.

“We don’t know what the objective is and it sounds like we’re putting the cart before the horse,” Adams said.

Bryan Mills, who also spoke as a member of the Future Forestry Task Force, said he could have a budget back to council within one week.

Council agreed to bring the recommendation to apply for a community forest back to the table at the July 26 council meeting.