by LAURA KEIL
The committee of citizens struck to advise the McBride Community Forest (MCFC) board on the proposed Carrier Lumber license purchase will be expanded, says the consultant in charge of the committee.
Jeff McWilliams of B.A. Blackwell & Associates is one of several consultants retained by the MCFC and is overseeing the committee.
He says he received around eight applications, all of them from qualified people.
“All the candidates look to be great at this point.”
He has already received the green light from the board to expand the number of members from the original number of 3-4 to encompass all interested applicants.
The applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, he says, including loggers, business people and people involved in the Community Forest in the past.
He won’t release the names until sometime next week once he’s had a chance to confirm their interest.
McWilliams says the committee was created out of an interest for “more open and transparent management;” eventual public input on the process anyway; and local knowledge that can add to the negotiation.
“One of the big benefits of local involvement in a committee like this is these people will know more about the forest area being considered for the deal than I do, as an outsider, for example.”
The volunteer members of the committee will assist B.A. Blackwell in analyzing the proposed offer to purchase a larger tenure area from Carrier Lumber together with the Valemount Community Forest.
“We’re seeking public input on what roads and bridges exist in the areas; what conditions those bridges and roads are in; what about landslides or unknown en-vironmental things; we also want to know if there’s specific resource values that people know about – animals, habitat and stuff like that. We need to go through a lot of that. Also the history of logging in the area.”
He says the meetings will likely not be open to the public, but minutes and key points will likely be made public eventually.
While McWilliams says the terms of reference, timeline and scope of the committee are yet to be finalized, the job of members will be to assess the viability of the current offer and provide recommendations to the MCFC Board on the “long term benefits and risks of the current package and propose alternatives as necessary.”
“We have work to do, poring over maps, sharing information and compiling data,” he says.
He adds the timeline is sensitive as they should give an answer to Carrier in the next few months.
The MCFC is also undergoing a re-structuring and does not currently have a General Manager. The company’s board (made up of local Council members) is be-ing guided by B.A. Blackwell & Associates until a manager is hired.
Susan Mulkey, a manager at the BC Community Forest Association is guiding the restructuring process, while Wes Bieber, another private consultant, is assisting with current management. Bruce Blackwell of B.A. Blackwell is providing guidance regarding existing and potential lawsuits facing the corporation.