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Public Engagement on the Future of the Municipal Forest Reserve Paused for 60 Days
July 17, 2020
(North Cowichan, BC) – In the lead-up to launching public engagement activities to collect input on the future of the Municipal Forest Reserve, Council has enacted a 60-day pause on the engagement process to facilitate a government-to-government consultation with local First Nations. “I feel it is important that we respect the Indigenous right to self-governance and consult local First Nations in a meaningful way,” said Mayor Al Siebring. “Pausing public engagement will allow us to fully understand the issues and interests of local First Nations, which could potentially change the scope and scale of the public engagement process.”
The Municipal Forest Reserve is located on the traditional territories of seven local First Nations. North Cowichan reached out to each Nation in March to determine which Nations wanted to be consulted and what the consultation process should look like. “Through this consultation process, it is important we continue to build a strong relationship with local First Nations, and we are taking steps to do that,” said Siebring.
The Interim Forest Management Plan, which was to be implemented this fall to guide forest management until December 31, 2021, will be delayed due to the pause in public engagement. In the absence of an interim plan, Council may consider additional harvesting of blow-down salvage or removal of hazardous trees for fire prevention if doing so is aligned with the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and is recommended by the Forestry Advisory Committee and the UBC Partnership Group.
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Al Siebring, Mayor