FORT NELSON, B.C. — Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Community Development Officer Mike Gilbert has a message that will be going to Municipal Council later this week.
He’s talking about last week’s meeting in Victoria with provincial officials on a proposal to re-establish a sustainable forest industry in the municipal district, eight years after the closure of the Canfor OSB and plywood mills in Fort Nelson.
However, on Wednesday, prior to public release, council is scheduled to receive and respond to the details of the discussions with the province, which focused on the proposed Forestry Rejuvenation Project, an initiative started in 2013.
It has two core objectives and one is the need for the communities within the boundaries of the municipality to have a greater influence over the forest resource and related activities.
The other is the need for NRRM, area First Nations, and the province to work in partnership to establish greater local influence over the forest resource sector.
To assist with the development of the proposal, the municipal council commissioned the widely respected firm, WOOD MARKETS INTERNATIONAL, to provide a high level business case.
Under its guidance it was determined the region’s traditional forestry model was no longer viable. In an earlier interview, Jack Stevenson, the municipalities Director of Planning and Community Development talked about that.
Also as reported earlier, the aforementioned 2008 mill closures occurred when the northeast B.C. oil and gas industry was on the upswing and it managed to absorb many of the job losses associated with the closures.
Now however, it’s the oil and gas industry which is dealing with major job losses, and this new proposal amounts to a local government economic diversification response. The MD hoping a sustainable forest industry in the area, will result in the two industries supporting each other during economic slump periods.