McBride Community Forest - A Ship Without a Sail

By Ken Starchuk

Just think, it was only a couple of years ago that the McBride Community Forest was operating with a General Manager, and it was generating a significant income for the Village over the previous years and paying out dividends annually to the Village. There were the same challenges back then as there are today, and it was ensuring that an adequate wood supply for local mills and contractors and any surplus wood could be sold elsewhere.

Fast forward from then to today. There has been no real effort that I can see to replace the General Manager’s position and the concern is there doesn’t seem to be any urgency to do so. Why the delay in filling this important position?

What I see is we have a Band-aid fix with Jeff McWilliams, an associate with B.A. Blackwell from North Vancouver, hired on to act as the Interim General Manager back in 2015, and being paid who knows what.

I couldn’t find anything in his credentials where he has experience managing a Community Forest corporation. Having an absentee manager just doesn’t work when you’re trying to get this dismantled Community Forest back on its feet so that we start seeing local contractors back working and local mills being supplied with the wood they need.

I don’t buy McWilliam’s comments in the AGM report regarding the cutting permits that expired and were not renewed on time. I would think that any manager in his capacity would have done his due diligence and made this his first priority to know when that would be and start planning for its replacement.

Further to that, the Chair of the Board and the Board of Directors themselves should have been doing their homework with regards to these permits expiring. Hell, I even knew these permits needed to be renewed and I’m no longer on the Board.

If you do a quick search of other Community Forest corporations in the province you will see that most do have some type of corporate structure. Most have a local General Manager and the majority of seats are held by elected officials sitting on the Board. So why is this Community Forest not operating in the same type of structure?

Most of you know the local contractors that either work for the Community Forest in the logging part of the program, or there are the mill operators who rely on the Community Forest to provide wood to their mills.