Letter: Conflict of interest “Not a problem” – Community Forest Manager

RE: July 23rd Editorial: Are we in trouble?

Dear Editor,

There is no question that there are conflicts of interest on the VCF board.  I believe that we are diligent that in cases of conflict board members leave the room for the topic.  The board members who are in conflict of interest have been on the board for a long time and are long time contractors in the area.  All in conflict have been working here before the 1990’s so this is not new.  

Mickelson Investments has an evergreen contract with the VCF LP stating that his company has the right to harvest roughly half of the VCF annual cut.  We inherited this contract when we purchased the Carrier Lumber Forest Licence.  This is a legal contract.  Of the $4 million Mickelson takes, the vast majority of this amount which is generally harvesting/hauling cost.  When you dig into the Mickelson expense you would see that this expense includes at least three logging sub contractors and 8-10 trucks.  Generally, the hauling cost far exceeds the logging cost so at least half the $3.7 million is trucking costs that go through Mickelson Investments.  VCF staff sets the haul rates for the trucks pays Mickelson for the amount hauled and Mickelson pays the trucks.  

We are also in the process of buying out the evergreen contract from Mickelson Investments at market value and $197,334 of the $3.7 million.  If you remove the Evergreen buyout and hauling cost from Mickelson’s expense you could bring the overall $4 million down closer to $2 million.  

All harvesting contracts with our loggers are calculated the same using a logging calculation based on general costs and difficulty in harvest.  This is all very defendable.  We are an open book on this.  Just ask.

There has been a conflict of interest since I have been here but we are making it work efficiently and openly.  We have had three different mayors, many different board members, councillors and Village staff on the board over my 6 years at this position and not once have I had a specific complaint of conflict of interest.  An operation like ours needs a wide range of talented people on its board including mill specialists, loggers and forestry professionals.  If you take these people away, who have conflict of interest, you would have a board comprised of people that lack the knowledge and experience to make proper decisions.

In my opinion there is not a problem and we manage the conflict of interest effectively.  Maybe next time we can sit down and gain a true understanding before rocks are thrown.

Craig Pryor, Manager 
VCF LP and VIP LP

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