The long-awaited public engagement to determine the future of North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve is expected to begin again by mid summer.
In a report to council, the municipality’s manager of communications and public engagement Barb Floden said North Cowichan is currently in phase three of the forest review timeline.
She said that during this phase, the University of B.C. Partnership Group that is working with North Cowichan on its review of the forest reserve is developing the potential forest management scenarios for the MFR.
“Before sharing these scenarios with the general public, the partnership group will present them to [North Cowichan’s] forestry advisory committee for their feedback and comments before a final review by council,” Floden said.
“Any potential changes will be made at that time, and round two of public engagement will begin. This will include workshops, a survey, as well as a statistically valid phone survey of North Cowichan residents.”
Floden said the partnership group has experienced delays due to unforeseen personal circumstances within its team and will be sharing the potential scenarios with staff in the coming weeks.
She said after that, a FAC meeting can be facilitated for input, and then the forest-management scenarios for the MFR will be presented to council.
“Given this delay, it is expected that public engagement will begin mid-summer,” Floden said.
“This adjustment will have an impact on the remainder of the timeline. Generally speaking, public engagement during July and August is typically avoided. The fall of 2022 also poses some timing challenges with the general local election slated for Oct. 15.”
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.