North Cowichan chooses community engagement facilitator for forestry in the municipal forest reserve. (File photo)

North Cowichan chooses community engagement facilitator for forestry in the municipal forest reserve. (File photo)

North Cowichan picks company to consult with public on forestry

Public consultations to begin in new year

The Municipality of North Cowichan has awarded a contract for its public engagement on forestry to the Vancouver-based company Lees and Associates. A request for proposals was issued in September, closed in October, and eight strong proposals were received, according to a press release from North Cowichan.

Lees submitted the top-scoring proposal, showcasing the strengths and talents of their team. North Cowichan is one of the few communities that owns and manages forest lands for the benefit of residents.

The Municipal Forest Reserve occupies approximately 25 per cent of the land base in North Cowichan.

Revenues from the MFR have historically gone toward a forestry reserve fund, scholarships and bursaries, recreation, capital projects, and reducing the annual property tax levy by an average of $600,000 to $800,000 per year. Last winter, North Cowichan’s council began hearing from citizens interested in the municipality’s activities within the reserve.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN PLANS TO HAVE ENGAGEMENT FACILITATOR FOR FOREST RESERVE IN PLACE BY OCTOBER

As a result, council asked for a review of North Cowichan’s forestry operations and curtailed harvesting until such time as an interim and long-term forestry management plan could be implemented.

“Council directed staff to also perform deep and meaningful public engagement on the highest and best use of the forest in order to help inform the technical review process, and ultimately, the long-term forest management plan,” said Mayor Al Siebring.

The municipality is working with Dr. Stephan Sheppard, a professor at the University of British Columbia, the Coastal Douglas Fir Conservation Partnership, and 3GreenTree Consulting to perform a technical review and seek as many feasible management options as possible.

“Residents will have an opportunity to participate and provide input beginning in the New Year and there will be many different opportunities to engage,” Siebring said