By Korie Marshall, Editor

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In business, there seems to be a lot of reasons to keep your plans and information private, or even secret. But if you need public support – like if you are a community based organization, for example – the business rules about privacy might be better off thrown out the window.

Craig Pryor, manager of the Valemount Community Forest, joked at the meeting last week that the VCF’s plan to buy some of Carrier Lumber’s licence was the valley’s worst kept secret. I don’t think they were intentionally trying to keep it secret, and I think anyone who was interested or paying attention knows our local community forests are looking for more volume. Carrier is really the only one who has any to spare. Some people might have been naive enough (like me, early on) to think the provincial government might just re-allot the volume to the community forests. But Carrier paid for it, why would any business give up for free what they bought? I don’t think anyone could fault them for that.

People may not have known all the details of the deal being worked out, but I think it’s good that people knew the deal was being worked on. Local manufacturers and businesses, employing local people, have been calling for more volume for a few years. People like Jason Alexander, owner of Cedar Valley Holdings, knew the wood he needed was just down the lake, visible from his mill, but he couldn’t get it. And people who might be interested in opening up any sort of wood products shop at the new Valemount Industrial Park, purchased last year by the VCF, were likely concerned about the volume of local wood they’d have access to. The fact that this potential deal was in the works would be promising to those existing and potential businesses.

An interesting thing to me is that a lot process this has involved dealings with businesses who likely want much of their information kept private – businesses like Carrier itself, local mills and contractors, people with other potential business ideas. And yet, the provincial government wants to see community support for the last step of the process to change the volume-based licence into an area based license. How could the community show support if they don’t know what is going on?

I applaud the work that Pryor, the rest of the VCF staff and the board has done so far. They’ve had to balance a lot of interests, and they have taken the time to answer questions along the way, as well as making efforts like holding this meeting, providing the public with the information they can, working on a newsletter, and attending events like the Community Conversations and last year’s trade show in Valemount.

I appreciate their openness and willingness to share information, and I think that has been and will be a great benefit in showing the provincial government that they have broad community support for their work.