Teresa Bird – Black Press
The Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-op has been given a two-year extension on its licence and they want to celebrate by hosting the B.C. Community Forest Association conference next year.
Brooke Hodson, chair of CLCFC, credits the community with helping the co-op secure the extension.
“There were lots of letters from the community and it made a difference,” Hodson told a meeting of the chamber of commerce Wednesday night.
The extended licence gives the co-op the opportunity to log the remaining volume in the 3,000 hectare Bolduc Block near Gordon River that the CLCFC has been working since 1995. The current licence expired in June.
In the next few months the co-op is working to get a longer-term licence with the Ministry of Forests. Most communities have 25-year licences, but the Cowichan Lake co-op was established in 1995, before provincial legislation granted licences based on long term operations. Consequently, the Community Forest Co-op has operated under an old model of volume-based licences and is the oldest community forest on Vancouver Island. The CLCFC was established as part of a job creation program encouraged by then B.C. premier Mike Harcourt. The co-op’s mission is to create local jobs, as well as provide training to new forest workers.
“We create a lot of direct jobs and we create a lot of indirect jobs,” said Hodson. And they support the community with the money they realize from the logging operations. Ten percent of proceeds are held in a reserve fund for contingencies, 10 percent is set aside for a Community Legacy Fund and 80 percent is used to generate and sustain employment.
Hodson says now the co-op is partnering with the Pacheedaht First Nation to form a community forest corporation and apply for a licence under the more modern legislation.
“We have identified an area that would allow about 30,000 cubic metres,” said Hodson. “There is a lot of work to be done, our goal is very ambitions but we hope to have a new licence in 2016.”
And what better way to announce that new licence than by hosting the BC Community Forest Association annual convention in Lake Cowichan?
CLCFC thinks it might be a perfect fit and they are exploring the possibility over the next few days.
If the three-member committee are confident the community could host the 100-participant event, then CLCFC will send in their application along with a $5,000 cheque.
The event would host delegates from 55 community forests in B.C. in May or June. Hodson shared a tentative itinerary with the chamber of commerce and noted that there would be many opportunities for delegates to spend time and money in the community over the four-day event.And the event would put a spotlight on the community.
“I expect there would be a higher turnout from politicians because of the proximity to Victoria,” noted Hodson. However there are challenges to consider including accommodations, and the availability of volunteers to support the event.