When Catalyst was fighting for survival of its Elk Falls Pulp mill in 2008/2009, it explained to the Campbell River’s city council that “the industrial tax burden in our community is not viable. A fair and equitable solution must be reached.”
To many of the very same councillors of Campbell River’s municipality, TimberWest’s presentation on Jan. 29 must have seemed like déjà vu. The city council was not listening in 2008/09 but, of course, we were going to be a community for retirees and tourists. Now residents bear about 98 per cent of the city’s total tax burden. I am sure that fact will attract retirees in droves, while continued escalation in ferry costs and decline in services will attract tourists.
Some councillors consider TimberWest a land development company and in terms of Jubilee Heights and the airport industrial land, it is. Most of the remaining TimberWest acreage is private managed forest land. “Section 21 (1) A local government must not (a) adopt a bylaw under any enactment, or (b) issue a permit under Part 21 or 26 of the Local Government Act in respect of land that is private managed forest land that would have the effect of restricting, directly or indirectly, a forest management activity. (2) For certainty, this section applies if the bylaw or permit would have the effect described in subsection (1) even though the bylaw or permit does not directly apply to land referred to in that subsection.”
TimberWest has some 7,500 acres (3,035 ha) within the boundaries of the municipality. As a comparison, Beaver Lodge Forest Lands has some 1,028 acres or 415 hectares. Given in trust, the Beaver Lodge Land was supposed to be used for experimental work in reforestation and forest management. Is it?
Still, TimberWest has a lot of managed forest land in the municipality. There is more privately managed forest in the city than any other municipality in B.C. Instead of looking to Cumberland or North Cowichan, where there is a 7,000 hectare community forest of private forest lands managed for the residents, Campbell River’s managed forest land policy, including taxes, ought to be precedent-setting. While it should not contravene the intent of Private Managed Forest Land Act, the policy needs to be fair, equitable and reasonable.
William L. Wagner, PhD, RPF