Letter: Info provided at forest reserve session by councillor misleading

About 43 hectares of forest land is lost annually for a rather small profit

Info provided at forest reserve session by councillor misleading

Mayor and council,

Thank you to mayor and council for including two public meetings back to back at the Maple Bay Fire Hall. This expense seemed worthwhile as the first meeting which I attended was well attended.

I do however have some feedback that I believe is relevant as to how questions from the public were answered and who should be answering them.

The question from a lady in the audience regarding the monetary value of the forestry program had suggested that $100,000 of net annual income is what the municipality receives. Instead of the forestry department manager answering the question, Councillor Tek Manhas interrupted the facilitator with what was part of Councillor Manhas’s election campaign rhetoric. Claiming that the revenue figure of $1 million is most important.

I find Councillor Manhas out of order and had no business interfering in a public information meeting when the expert Sean Mason wasn’t given a chance to clarify to the public how gross revenue and net profit are dealt with in the accounting.

From my research the municipality has been conducting a logging operation on behalf of the taxpayers and mostly out of sight of the public until the public protested. In any business I know of, net profit is the bottom line and a clear indicator of how the business is performing. It seems Councillor Manhas’s understand of municipal finances goes only as far as revenue because as he said “it’s all about revenue, the municipality must balance its budget to zero”.

Therefore according to Councillor Manhas the principal of generating revenue by logging trees and using the forests as tree farms is the most important contribution to the municipality.

However if the principle of generating net profit is considered, since the forestry department is acting like a business, this principle would seem to be far more relevant to bring to the public’s attention since this activity has generated only $135,000 annually averaged over five years.

If it is considered that about 43 hectares of forest land is lost annually for a rather small profit, then it would seem that the business of logging is far from being a success. In fact if all of the negative impacts due to this logging activity were considered from an environmental perspective and if a monetary cost to the environment were quantified, this logging business has been a total failure. Just as it was a failure when in the past the owner of these mountains stripped these six mountains of all the trees.

I urge council to consider the real value of a natural working forest doing the real job these mountain forests were meant to do.

Bryan Senft

North Cowichan