Community Forest tenure near reality 

The Resort Municipality of Whistler wants Richmond Plywood to be the company responsible for harvesting trees in their community forest partnership with First Nations.

Following a discussion at the council table Monday night, councillors recommended their preference for entering into a contract with Richmond Plywood, over CRB Logging.

“At this time, we are feeling that Richmond Plywood is the company that is more in line with how we want to operate,” said Heather Beresford, environmental stewardship manager for the municipality.

“CRB has grave concerns about the approach we are taking with an ecosystem based management and our plan in general…. They are not willing to take the level of risk that Richmond Plywood would be willing to take on.”

But both the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, who are equal partners in the program, have a long history of working with CRB.

This relationship is fairly hands off, with CRB carrying out the logging and then sending a revenue cheque to the First Nations, said Beresford.

Beyond the choice of company, the three partners continue to get closer to entering into the forestry business and harvesting trees surrounding Whistler through an ecosystem-based management forestry plan with a sustainable harvest level of 20,000 cubic metres of wood per year.

The community forest application was submitted to the Ministry of Forests and Range on July 10, 2008 and it is anticipated that it will take approximately six months to finalize negotiations with the province and to receive the community forest tenure.

The project has been dubbed the Cheakamus Community Forest and will involve an initial tenure of five years. After that, the agreement may be extended to another five years or replaced with a 25-year long-term agreement.

The RMOW will commit $30,000 towards the start-up costs of the project, subject to the two First Nation groups doing the same. Also, Mayor Ken Melamed and Peter Ackhurst, a registered professional forester, will represent Whistler on the community forest society’s six-member board of directors.

The municipality is currently working on finalizing a Limited Partnership Agreement between the two partners along with developing a five-year business plan.

 

CCPI calculations at Cheakamus Crossing will begin this fall

 

Homes at the new Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood could be tied to the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CCPI) as soon as this fall, even though occupancy will not begin until after the Winter Games in 2010.

This clause was part of the Cheakamus Crossing Housing Agreement to which council gave three readings to on Monday night, even though it goes against the municipality’s status-quo policy of tying homes bought through the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) to the CCPI only after the occupancy permit has been issued.

“Typically it has been when the occupancy permit is issued or when the resale transaction takes place,” explained Guy Patterson, housing planning director for the municipality.

“In Cheakamus Crossing, the question is do we start calculating the appraisal of the units when the person signs the contract, which could be this year, or will it be calculated half way through 2010 when occupancy begins.”

Bill Barratt, chief administrator for the municipality, added that calculating the CCPI — an indicator of inflation — now may help tempt buyers.

“Our desire is to have good sales at the athletes’ village this fall and continue those through occupancy after the Games,” said Barratt.

“Certainly this is a bit of incentive for the market.”

But Councillor Gord McKeever said the WHA was not comfortable with this clause when they first saw it.

“It is contrary to our policy,” he said. “Gradually I did come around though because I think it is appropriate to acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances here.”

In response to some of his concerns, McKeever spearheaded a motion to add a bylaw amendment also to the Rainbow Housing Agreement with similar CCPI calculation.

“I would like to direct staff to make sure they also talk to the WHA staff when they do this and incorporate their input,” said McKeever.

“The Rainbow model is a very complex model and you cannot enter into it willy-nilly.”

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