Recent CanWel clearcutting north of Fernie. Photo by Eddie Petryshen/Wildsight

AKBLG to consider Fernie resolution on private land logging

Resolution calls for same rules as Crown land; plus, who’s attending the 2019 AKBLG Convention

The City of Fernie’s plea for more control over private land logging will be considered at a local government convention this week.

The resolution asks that the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) call upon the Province to “implement regulations and standards that are equivalent to Crown forest land regulations and standards that address forest harvesting for commercial purposes on private lands”.

It also proposes to give local governments the authority to require private landowners to undertake annual consultations to provide “information regarding long term disposition or development intentions for land adjacent to municipal boundaries if intended for commercial purposes”.

The resolution recognizes that many local governments in rural B.C. are surrounded by “significant amounts” of forested private land and the expectation placed upon them to protect community values, including sight line and slope stability.

Co-sponsored by the City of Nelson, it is among 20 resolutions put forward for local and provincial action at the 2019 Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) Convention and Annual General Meeting in Castlegar from April 26-28.

If endorsed by the AKBLG, the resolution will be submitted to UBCM.

Both the AKBLG and UBCM resolutions committee have recommended endorsing Fernie’s resolution, which comes amid local concern about private land logging, with one eighth of the Elk Valley in private hands and forestry company CanWel clearcutting vast tracts of land.

The UBCM committee noted that the UBCM membership last year endorsed a similar resolution.

“In response, the Province indicated that imposing requirements for information sharing within municipal boundaries is an unjustified intrusion into private decisions of landowners,” said the committee.

“There are opportunities available for direct communication between concerned local governments, individual landowners, Private Managed Land Association, and the regulator of the Private Managed Forest Land Act, the Managed Forest Council.”

It’s not the first time UBCM has called for amendments to the Private Managed Forest Land Act and greater transparency in the forestry industry. Similar resolutions were endorsed in 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2005, according to the AKBLG resolutions package.

Also up for consideration at the AGM are resolutions for stand-by pay for key emergency personnel, a sustainable funding model for search and rescue groups, and capital funding for rural and municipal fire departments.

These have been put forward by the District of Sparwood and Regional District of East Kootenay, with recommendations for endorsement.

Elk Valley leaders to attend AKBLG convention

Elk Valley mayors and councillors are hitting the road this week to learn from experts and to network with their Kootenay and Boundary colleagues.

The 2019 Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) Convention and AGM will be held in Castlegar from April 26-28.

The annual conference will cover a wide range of topics, from tourism and taxation to cannabis and First Nations collaboration.

Delegates will have a chance to attend presentations, tours and events, as well as pre- and post-convention workshops.

Among them will be representatives from the City of Fernie, District of Sparwood and District of Elkford.

Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher said most of Elkford council will attend the AKBLG convention this year.

“As with any conference we attend, there is always an opportunity to learn new initiatives, as well as make new contacts that they will work with for the next four years,” he said.

“As a 16-year politician, it will give me an opportunity to share my knowledge I have gained, as well as the opportunity to learn new ways to do things.”

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks, Councillors Jason Christensen and Amy Cardozo, and Chief Administrative Officer Michele Schalekamp will also attend AKBLG, along with Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza and a number of Fernie councillors.

The keynote speaker at this year’s convention is Chris Rynic from Rynic Communications, who will deliver a talk titled “Five ways to make community-building exceptional”.

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All three Elk Valley mayors are attending the 2019 AKBLG Convention in Castlegar. File photo

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