Community Forest Board members
Community Forest Board President Ainslie Jackman (centre) replaces outgoing president Cynthia Piper (far left).

By: Korie Marshall

The Valemount Community Forest (VCF) board has elected a new president, Ainslie Jackman, to replace outgoing president Cynthia Piper.

VCF held its Annual General Meeting on Monday night, Feb. 16th. Audited financials from 2013 show equal assets and liabilities of $3,586,817 for 2013, up from $2,894,510 in 2012. Retained earnings were $2,247,823, up about 20 per cent over the previous year.

Craig Pryor, Manager of the community forest, gave an overview of the draft 2014 financials, which show total revenue of about $7.4 million, including $450,000 in grant funding, and total expenses of about $6 million, of which Pryor says the vast majority was spent locally. Net earnings are about $1.45 million, and silviculture liabilities are about $1.4 million.

Pryor says the corporation is financially healthy and able to finance major purchases like the old Slocan/Carrier mill site in Cedarside that was finalized in late 2014, as well as operating capital. Some highlights of the 2014 year are the 107,000 cubic meters harvested; 490,000 trees planted on logged blocks, with another 500,000 planned for this summer; over 700 hectares of plantation surveyed to meet government regulations with successful results; and more than 20 kilometers of road was built.

The corporation is still in expansion mode, says Pryor, and planning is ongoing to address issues with the purchased mill site, which hasn’t been in operation for about 10 years, so presents a few challenges. The corporation is still looking for more forest tenure, and has purchased a sale of 33,000 cubic meters of mixed species down the East Canoe from BC Timber Sales. Pryor says the Community Forest won’t make much money off it, but will keep contractors busy and will mean an additional $1.5 million for the local economy.

Former president Cynthia Piper opened the floor to questions from the public, and Jason Alexander asked how the bridge will help Valemount Glacier Destinations. Pryor says the proponents are paying for a bridge over the McLennan River to the west of the airport, and the community forest was planning to log a block in the area anyway, so it is a bonus for both to work together. He says the community forest would have to build a road anyway, and profits from clearing the right-of-way will cover their cost of building the road. Director Gordon Carson clarified that the road and bridge will still be accessed from Crooked Creek Road, behind the airport, via what was the original access road to the Westridge.

“Before we dissolve the board, I would like to thank all the board members, you do a great job, and we’ve had a banner year,” said Piper. “This board works extraordinarily hard for the community.”

A motion was then made to dissolve the board, and Councillor Owen Torgerson, as representative of the Village, gave a message from the shareholder. Torgerson thanked the board for their exceptional service to the Village.

“The board is not stagnant, and it is a real treat to see how you want to make everything a success moving forward,” he said.

Pryor said the Village has received applications for members to the board of directors, and Council has met to choose the candidates they will appoint. Gordon Carson, Ainslie Jackman, John Mcguire, Vern Mickelson and Gerry Piper were appointed to the new board, with the seat for a First Nations representative to remain vacant until filled. Anne Yanciw stays on the board as an appointed member of Village staff, and Torgerson and Councillor Peter Reimer are both Council representatives on the board.

Mayor Jeannette Townsend asked to make a comment before the annual general meeting was adjourned.

“I want to say thank you very much Cynthia, you have done a stellar performance on this board. You’ve been president for seven years, and this board has achieved a great deal. We are all very proud and grateful for the achievements under your presidency,” said Townsend. “And we hope to see you back.”

The meeting was then adjourned, and a special meeting called to elect the executive. Gordon Carson and Ainslie Jackman both accepted nominations for president, with Jackman winning in a vote by ballot. Carson was nominated for vice-president, and Anne Yanciw for secretary/treasurer, both winning by acclamation.

The Valemount Community Forest Board’s next regular meeting is set for Monday, March 2nd.