North Cowichan will extend the deadline for people to fill out its forest engagement survey from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31, council decided at its meeting on Dec. 21.
The unanimous decision was made after council received a letter stating that a lot people were not focused on the future of North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve during the Christmas season.
Coun. Tek Manhas made the motion to extend the deadline, saying that the letter writer is absolutely correct.
He said North Cowichan rushed through the development of its official community plan that was adopted earlier in 2022 during the summer months.
“Many people were away and the OCP wasn’t on a lot of people’s minds,” he said.
“We’re doing the same thing here with our forest engagement survey. This is a hot topic right now, so we should give people more time to fill out the survey.”
The public is being asked to consider four options for the management of North Cowichan’s municipal forest reserve which were developed with input received last year in round one of the public engagement process to help determine the future management of the forest reserve, as part of the ongoing review of the MFR.
The options range from continuing harvesting the MFR as in the past to permanently stopping all logging, other than dealing with blow-downs and for safety reasons.
In 2019, council endorsed just the completion of existing 2018 forestry contracts and harvesting of blow downs in the forest reserve that year until experts were tapped for their input and the public had been thoroughly consulted on what people want for the future of the public properties.
No commercial harvesting in the MFR has taken place since then.
The survey can be found on the municipality’s website at https://www.connectnorthcowichan.ca/MFR.
Coun. Bruce Findlay said he supports extending the survey’s deadline to the end of January.
He said North Cowichan has recently received emails talking about people who are not used to computers and others have been helping them take the survey, so it’s important to provide the extra time.
Coun. Mike Caljouw said he has heard from people on both sides of the debate stating they they felt they were being rushed, so he also thinks it’s important to extend the deadline for the survey.
“We’ve already had two years of waiting, so I think we can wait a little bit longer,” he said.