The pause and the economy
Mr. Senft is a regular contributor in support of the pause in the operation of the North Cowichan forest program. But he is too sensitive in his wish to control the narrative about the economics of the pause/carbon credit quest. The interjection of recently re-elected Tek Manhas in the discussion at the Maple Bay meeting was to correct the cloud created around the economics of government programs. The revenue of the program paid for the infastructure of the forestry department and so net revenue is not a true value of the program. The cost of the forestry program during the pause continues and so that’s why North Cowichan has had to deplete its reserve funds by $2 million. For about three years there has been no revenue coming in.
But I join with Mr. Senft in urging the municipality to clearly set out these numbers in a statement. I believe I may have been misleading when it comes to the cost of the pause. I have been speaking only about the loss in reserve funds. In reality the loss in revenue to the municipality has been significantly more. The allowable cut for the period of the pause would have been about 40,000 cubic metres. I am told the net return to the timber owner is about $150 per cubic metre. More for certain species. That then means a potential loss of over $6 million in revenue, not the $2 million I have stated, nor the $1 million from Mr. Manhas, or the $150,000 stated by Mr. Senft.
I am also concerned by the economic factors in the analysis of the UBC group. The base price of the timber seems low and the two per cent inflation of timber prices seems low as well, especially since a five per cent increase is given to carbon credits. I was also surprised to learn this is not a partnership between MNC and UBC Forestry. UBC is being paid. I thought they were going to benefit from carbon credit arrangements.
Council needs to have a real financial analysis done and published. They also need to have more public meetings. I know the meeting was held in Maple Bay so all the pause folks could walk, but people in western North Cowichan, Crofton and Chemainus pay taxes as well.