A Strathcona Regional District director is still in limbo, waiting to hear whether or not he will be reinstated to the forestry board he was told he is no longer welcome on.
Area A Director Gerald Whalley said he and the regional district’s CAO met with staff from Western Forest Products on Friday, Nov. 13.
Whalley said Western, which hosts the Mid Island Forestry Lands Advisory Group (MIFLAG) meetings at its Menzies forestry office, said after hearing from Whalley it would take his comments “under advisement” and come back with a decision.
Whalley has not attended a MIFLAG meeting since Sept. 22 when he was told to leave the Menzies forestry office and not come back.
Whalley said he angered some of the foresters by appealing Western’s clean audit. Whalley said he questioned the audit because of the group’s actions at a previous meeting, on July 28.
Whalley said at that meeting, a motion to allow Western to increase its allowable use of herbicides in the Sayward Valley by three times was declared carried following a vote of six in favour and four opposed.
Whalley contests that the motion should have failed according to MIFLAG’s terms of reference which states that, “decisions which must be made by MIFLAG are done by consensus building techniques where consensus is deemed to be ‘no strong opposition.’
Whalley said when he appealed the audit findings, the foresters grew angry and told him to leave.
A follow up letter to the Strathcona Regional District from Western Forest Products staff reiterated that, stating, “in light of recent events, Gerald Whalley is no longer welcome to participate in, or attend any further MIFLAG meetings or functions.”
Regional District Chair Jim Abram questioned Western’s actions in not accepting an appointment made by the regional district to the MIFLAG board, saying “I have never encountered any company that has dismissed a member appointed by another agency, solely due to the fact that they disagree with the company’s views on silviculture.”
At the regional district’s Nov. 12 board meeting, Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, said responsibility of Western Forest Products does not appear to extend to the appointment, suspension or removal of individual sector appointees to the MIFLAG board, which exists to advise Western Forest Products on sustainable forest management.
Meanwhile, Whalley said all further MIFLAG meetings have been cancelled until the new year.
Jeff Ternan, operations manager for Western, wrote in a letter to the regional district that a session scheduled for Oct. 27 was re-scheduled “to create some space for us to have a constructive discussion regarding regional district representation.”
Ternan went on to say that Western hopes to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
“To be clear, we have no issues with Mr. Whalley expressing his opinions and welcome the input from the regional district and value your representation on our public advisory group,” Ternan wrote.
“We look forward to working towards a positive resolution on membership between our two parties and continuing the regional district representation in an advisory capacity.”
The Mid Island Forest Advisory Lands Advisory Group is made up of several community and local government representatives as well as Western Forest Product representatives.
The group serves as a public participation process in the area of sustainable forest management. The committee is not a decision making body but makes recommendations to MIFLAG which Western is not required to accept. Meetings are held at Western Forest Products’ Menzies Bay office.