Council Matters for July 3, 2019 - Special Council Meeting on Forestry

Council held a special meeting on July 3, 2019 specifically to consider a number of decisions related to the Municipal Forest Reserve. Here are some highlights from that meeting:

Council reviewed the last batch of blowdown salvage proposals and decided to proceed with tendering contracts to complete blow down harvesting for Mount Richards, Mount Sicker, and Mount Prevost, and decided not to proceed with blowdown harvesting on Osborne Bay Road and Babine Road. For these latter two areas, Council wanted to explore further whether harvesting in these locations is necessary at this time, given their location away from designated trails and the more limited extent of the blowdown. Blowdown salvage is already underway on Maple Mountain, Mt Tzouhalem, and Stoney Hill.

Council then reviewed two reports: the first, a proposal from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Coastal Douglas Fir Partnership, and 3GreenTreeConsulting, to assist in developing a forest management plan, and second, a report from staff on next steps for forestry engagement.

The work that UBC proposes to do includes things such as: spatial, multi-objective analyses; scenario mapping; feasibility of a forest carbon project; and recommended harvesting volumes, areas, and rotations. This work needs to be done for the forestry review, whether or not it is UBC that does it. Council decided to support, in principle, collaboration with UBC, the Coastal Douglas Fir Partnership, and 3GreenTreeConsulting, to develop a sustainable forest management plan for implementation on January 1, 2022 to maximize the diverse values of the Municipal forests to the community. Council also decided to support, in principle, collaboration with the same group to develop an interim forestry management strategy for the estimated period between September 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021. The next step will be for staff to develop a framework agreement with UBC to present back to Council.

Council also directed staff to prepare a request for proposals to seek an engagement facilitator to undertake two phases of engagement: 1) engagement on development of the interim forest management strategy for the estimated period between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, and 2) engagement on the long-term forest management plan for implementation on January 1, 2022. The staff report emphasized that community engagement and the forestry review need to be coordinated and aligned. For example, the community will benefit from scenario mapping, technical reports, and visual analyses that will be developed through the operational review; similarly, the operational review will benefit from an understanding about community values and priorities for forest management. Staff will now issue an RFP, review proposals, and bring a recommendation back to Council for approval. Once a facilitation consultant is secured, they will be asked to meet with UBC to confirm key documents to be developed, timelines, and information flow between the engagement and technical review processes.

These two reports and associated decisions were the culmination of months of discussion between Council, staff, the Forest Advisory Committee, the public, and outside experts, regarding a forestry operational review and community engagement. While it has taken some time to get to this point, it has allowed us to have a many conversations and hear from many members of the community on this issue before initiating action. It is Council’s hope that we have a more robust process as a result.

Finally, Councillor Justice made the following notice of motion (meaning that this motion will be considered at the next Council meeting):

Whereas the Terms of Reference that Council designed for the municipal forestry review was used as the scope in the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) Terms of Reference, which states that the Committee is conducting the review (and suggests that its role does not go beyond that);

And Whereas the FAC is a part of, but is not conducting, North Cowichan’s municipal review of forestry (and is providing technical advice on issues not part of the review); 

Be it resolved that Council reconsider the wording of the Terms of Reference for the Forestry Advisory Committee to more accurately portray the Committee’s overall role and, especially, the part they will play in Council’s review of forestry.

Thank you for reading and staying informed. Council next meets on Monday, July 8 for a Committee of the Whole to consider community engagement for the upcoming Official Community Plan process and review its retail cannabis policy (12:30 p.m.), and our next Regular Council meeting is Wednesday, July 17 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan