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BACKGROUND: The Municipality of North Cowichan is one of the few communities in North America that owns and manages forest lands for the benefit of residents. The Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR) is 5,000+ ha in size, or 25% of the land base in North Cowichan. More information on the MFR is available in this Fact Sheet.
COMMUNITY INTEREST: In winter 2018, Council began hearing from citizens interested in the Municipality's forestry activities within the reserve. On December 19, 2018, many members of the public attended a Council meeting to share questions and comments about management of the MFR (video available here). Council has asked for a review of North Cowichan's forestry operations, but in the meantime, it is required by law to adopt a budget and set tax rates by May 15, 2019. To do this, Council has to make some immediate decisions about 2019 forestry operations, which will affect the 2019 budget.
A special Council meeting was held on Friday, February 15, 2019 for Council to consider and decide on 2019 forestry operations. The agenda, with background reports, can be viewed here. At that meeting, Council decided to harvest only remaining 2018 contract obligations (see map [PDF - 568 KB]) and timber that was blowndown in the recent windstorm, and to make up the nearly $150,000 resulting budget shortfall through the Forest Reserve Fund and through budget savings. Council also adopted a revised terms of reference for its Forest Advisory Committee and decided to expand its membership to include a registered professional biologist, three community members, and representatives from local Indigenous groups. The expanded Comittee's mandate will iclude a full review of forest management practices. The minutes from the February 15 Council meeting can be viewed here.