by LAURA KEIL
Carrier Lumber Ltd has withdrawn its offer to sell a portion of its Robson Valley forest license to the McBride Community Forest (MCFC), the MCFC has learned.
Jeff McWilliams, interim manager for MCFC, learned the news in a call with Terry Kuzma, Woodlands Manager for Carrier. McWilliams says the key reasons cited included Carrier being behind on their rate of harvest and nearing the end of the current cut control period for the forest license included in the offer.
“Together with a need to address environmental liabilities, Carrier felt they had to move forward this summer with development activities in the Dore River which was one of the operating areas included in the sale offer,” McWilliams said in a press release.
“Though MCFC is disappointed at the lost opportunity to expand the community forest, both parties emphasized their desire to maintain a good working relationship and to move forward on joint strategies,” the MCFC press release reads.
The Valemount Community Forest and the McBride Community Forest Corporation have been trying for years to get more volume to better sustain local mills and jobs. Carrier’s two licences cover the vast majority of the annual allowable cut for the Robson Valley area, which was decreased to 400,000 cubic meters in 2014.
Earlier this year the Valemount Community Forest secured a deal to purchase a volume license of 37,509 cubic meters a year from Carrier, essentially doubling their harvest volume.
The MCFC board created the Carrier Advisory Committee (CAC) in January 2016 to assess the viability of the Carrier offer. The committee was comprised of eight locals and MCFC representatives. They concluded that with MCFC’s current cut control issues and existing log supply agreements, MCFC could not meet the annual requirement of 50,000 m3 right of first refusal (ROFR) volume to be made available to Carrier.
The CAC also concluded that the purchase offer was a fantastic opportunity for MCFC and recommended in February that the MCFC meet with Carrier to discuss the challenges associated with meeting the FROR volume, the ongoing MCFC corporate restructuring and due diligence assessment of the deal.
“Unfortunately, this week was the first time Carrier was able to speak with MCFC about the deal,” the press release says. “At this time, while acknowledging that Carrier was aware of MCFC’s reduced cut position, Mr. Kuzma indicated to Mr. McWiliams that Carrier was not willing to negotiate the FROR volume or any other terms of the purchase offer.”
“Though this news is disappointing, our next steps are important,” says Loranne Martin, chair of the MCFC and mayor of McBride. “Carrier has a long and important history in the Robson Valley and a positive business relationship is a priority,”
“The withdrawal of this opportunity means that the MCFC must be realistic and operate as a lean organization with the existing cut.”
She adds there are still opportunities for McBride in the community forest and notes that many community forests in the province are in the 20,000-30,000 m3 range and bring lots of benefits to their community.
“What we need now is for the community to work with us to maximize what we have for the greatest community benefit.”