Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Working forest idea concerns tourism lobby

March 5, 2001

(Penticton, BC) – An NDP government proposal that could designate huge tracts of Crown land as working forests concerns the B.C. tourism industry, says a spokesman.

``This really scares us; this is horrible,’‘ Michael Campbell, vice-president of the Council of Tourism Associations, told about 200 industry officials during a symposium.

``The forests should work for tourism, as much as they work for forestry.’‘

Campbell circulated a petition urging delegates to protest the government’s plans.

The legislation’s goal is to protect Crown land by designated working forests, as has been done with protected areas in British Columbia. This area could amount to about 45 million hectares across the province.

``What they’re doing is putting a fence around all the forests that do exist and saying even if you have a tenured resort or whatever, that forestry will take precedence over it,’‘ Campbell said.

The NDP has only allowed a two-week window for feedback on the proposal, he said, suggesting the government is trying to get the plan approved before the provincial election — which must be called by late June— to win votes from the forest unions.

A Forests Ministry spokesperson in Victoria said the proposal would not change any existing multi-use designations within the forest land reserve, which was established in 1994.

``The only thing that changes is the test to take land out of the reserve),’‘ said Sue Stephen.

She said this would pertain mainly to applications for new parks and other protected lands, or large-scale commercial developments.

Instead of being handled through a provincial cabinet order-in-council, such applications would first go before a forest land reserve committee.

The committee’s recommendation would be forwarded to cabinet and then the legislature for final approval.

Stephen said there is little time for additional feedback because it’s hoped the proposal will be ready for when the legislature reconvenes March 14.