by Andru McCracken

Great things are happening in Valemount’s Community Forest. Here the board and guests meet for their annual general meeting. /”¬†ANDRU MCCRACKEN

At the Annual General Meeting on Monday night, the Valemount Community Forest (VCF) manager said the Community Forest is considering starting a mill.

VCF Manager Craig Pryor said that they have been encouraging small mills to set up in the area, but small market mills don’t have the capital to invest.

“A lot of the smaller guys really don’t have any money. Little ma and pa operations – they want deals,” said Pryor. “If we’re going to give someone a deal, why don’t we give ourselves a deal?”

Pryor said their recent work on forest inventory will show them what wood is available, providing the information they need to start the operation.

Valemount Community Forest Chair Ainslie Jackman said their plan is to diversify the local economy and create jobs.

“When I first came to Valemount there were so many little mills – then we had one,” she said.

Jackman said if the community forest can solve the problem of wood waste disposal from the mill it could allow many new ventures like specialty mills and related operations to start.

Director Gerry Piper said there are some barriers they need to figure out, one of which includes dealing with wood waste from the mill. He said currently they would have to truck it to Prince George.

“Any new businesses will have to dispose of their waste. Trucking is just not feasible,” said Plummer. “They’d be losing money on every truckload.”

But Pryor said that there may be new openings in the wood pellet sector as wood and wood waste becomes more scarce.

“We have companies that want to be invited to our tenders that we have never thought about because they are so far away,” he said.

Rashmi Narayan attended the annual general meeting

“I am excited that you are looking into the possibility of a mill and that more stuff is processed locally,” she said.

It was also revealed that the community forest tried to purchase Hauer Brothers Mill in Tete Jaune, which is now closing its doors.

Pryor said the price was too high.