Decision on 2019 Forestry Plans and Budget

(North Cowichan, BC) – At a special meeting today, Council considered options for 2019 forestry operations within the Municipal Forest Reserve, and endorsed completion of existing 2018 forestry contracts and harvesting of blowdown from the December 2018 windstorm.

In late 2018, Council began hearing from citizens interested in the Municipality's forestry activities within the Forest Reserve. Council has asked for a detailed 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 needed to make the decision today about 2019 forestry operations, which affect the 2019 budget.

Council’s decision today means an anticipated budget shortfall of around $150,000. Council confirmed that this shortfall will be offset by around $25,000 from the Forestry Reserve Fund and $125,000 through budget savings that staff will recommend.

“Today’s discussion achieved something that all local governments strive for, which is significant public interest and participation, conducted in a respectful and thoughtful way,” says Mayor Al Siebring. “We thank everyone who has provided input on this complex topic, and we know there are more discussions to come.”

At the meeting today, 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 Committee’s mandate will include a full review of forest management practices and short and long-term recommendations.

Detailed reports on forestry operations, options for 2019, and the FAC terms of reference can be viewed here