Welcome to the March edition of my e-Newsletter.
It has been a busy month. In early March, with Premier Christy Clark and Ministers Shirley Bond and Donna Barnett, I was proud to participate in releasing the B.C. Rural Economic Development Strategy.
The immediate investments and long-term action plan outlined in B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy are expected to create over 26,000 jobs and add $2.8 billion to the provincial GDP.
Along with the Strategy, we were able to announce that another 191 local governments, First Nations and community based organizations received over $15 million from the Rural Dividend’s second intake.
The third intake window for the Rural Dividend runs April 3 to May 31, 2017.
We’re also continuing to work closely with the federal government and B.C. forest companies on the softwood lumber file.
Since his appointment in mid-February as B.C.’s Special Envoy to the U.S., David Emerson has been to Washington, D.C. twice to help set the stage for negotiations.
A stable, predictable lumber supply is good for workers and the economy on both sides of the border. In the meantime, we’ve prepared a strong litigation defence in the trade action launched by the U.S. industry.
I’m also part of the newly formed Federal-Provincial Softwood Lumber Task Force chaired by federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr. The task force is focused on programs and supports that can be made available to workers and communities that may be impacted by the softwood lumber dispute.
Also in March, I was pleased to announce that, in the fall, government will be investing all hunting licence revenue into wildlife management activities.
The funds will be disbursed by a new stand-alone agency. The roles and responsibilities of the new agency will be determined based on input from First Nations, stakeholders and the public; however, regulatory authority and statutory decision making will remain with the ministry.
The engagement process will begin later this spring. The new revenue of $9 million to $10 million represents a 50% increase from the $18 million the ministry currently spends on wildlife management.
The agency will also be supported by an additional $5 million to start its activities.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
OTHER MINISTRY NEWS
RANGE FENCING REPLACEMENT PROGRAM PROVIDES $2.2 MILLION - The B.C. Government is providing $2.2 million over a three-year period to help replace damaged fencing on provincial Crown land.
PROVINCE APPROVES NEW ALL-SEASON MOUNTAIN RESORT IN VALEMOUNT - The Province has approved the new Valemount Glacier Destinations ski and sightseeing resort with the finalization and signing of a master development agreement on March 28.
OFF-ROAD VEHICLE FEES TO HELP FUND TRAIL UPGRADES, ENHANCE RURAL ECONOMIES - B.C.’s network of off-road vehicle-friendly backcountry trails is getting a boost, thanks to a new provincial government fund.
B.C. GIVES OVER $1.8 MILLION IN GRANTS TO FIGHT INVASIVE PLANTS - The B.C. government is handing out over $1.8 million in new grants to help control the spread of invasive plants in the province.
350-PLUS NEW CAMPSITES THROUGHOUT B.C. OPEN FOR 2017 - Visitors will soon have more camping opportunities with the completion of more than 350 new campsites in BC Parks and forestry recreation sites, in time for the upcoming camping season.
GYPSY MOTH SPRAY TREATMENT PLANNED FOR SAANICH - The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has been issued a pesticide use permit to aerial-spray 182 hectares of residences, park and farm land around Elk Lake in Saanich with a spray approved for use on organic farms, to eradicate a growing population of gypsy moth and minimize the risk they pose to forests, farms, orchards and trees.
OPEN HOUSE ON GYPSY MOTH GROUND SPRAY PROGRAM IN SURREY - A community open house about the 2017 gypsy moth ground spray treatment program in Surrey will be held on April 6, in the multi-purpose room at Fraser Heights Recreation Centre in Surrey.
BARKERVILLE MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT EXTENDED TO 2025 - The management agreement for the Barkerville historic site has been extended to 2025 from its original date of 2020.
PROVINCE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS TO RURAL DIVIDEND FUND APRIL3–MAY 31 - Applications for funding under the recently extended BC Rural Dividend will be accepted April 3–May 31, 2017. Funding is available in four categories: community capacity building, workforce development, community and economic development and business sector development.
PROVINCE PROVIDES $2.2 MILLION TO FIGHT INVASIVE PLANTS IN THOMPSON-NICOLA - The British Columbia government is investing $2.2 million in a pilot project over the next three years to explore new ways of managing invasive plants in the Thompson-Nicola region, MLA for Fraser-Nicola Jackie Tegart and Minister Thomson announced March 18.
NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY TO BUILD ON RURAL ADVANTAGES ON NORTH VANCOUVER ISLAND - Building on the economic benefits and jobs created by major projects and provincial investments in infrastructure, Minister Thomson announced March 3, immediate investments and a long-term action plan that will create jobs and economic opportunities in Campbell River.
FIRE AND FIRE SAFETY
B.C. ELIMINATES BARRIERS TO WATER-USE FOR RURAL FIREFIGHTERS - The Province is making it simpler for rural fire departments to divert, use and store water for non-emergency firefighting activities, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett announced today.
NEW $7.1-MILLION CARIBOO FIRE CENTRE READY FOR ACTION - The British Columbia government has enhanced the province’s firefighting capability in the Cariboo-Chilcotin with the opening of a $7.1-million facility at the Williams Lake Airport.
PUBLIC URGED TO USE CAUTION WITH OUTDOOR BURNING - Given current and predicted weather conditions, the BC Wildfire Service is encouraging members of the public and industry personnel to exercise caution when doing any outdoor burning.
NEW ALLOWABLE ANNUAL CUT LEVEL SET FOR TFL 55 - Effective March 24, 2017, the allowable annual cut for Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.’s Tree Farm Licence 55 near Revelstoke, is 83,000 cubic metres, chief forester Diane Nicholls announced March 27.
PARTNERSHIP LANDS INVITATION FOR COMMUNITY FOREST NEAR FORT NELSON - Opportunities for greater input into local forest management are expanding near Fort Nelson following an invitation from Minister Thomson to the Fort Nelson First Nation and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality to apply for a community forest agreement.
PACHEEDAHT FIRST NATION, COWICHAN LAKE INVITED TO APPLY FOR COMMUNITY FOREST - Proponents of the Qala-yit Community Forest are being invited to apply for a unique community forest agreement, the first community forest agreement that allows for a new form of partnership with BC Timber Sales through a reduced volume condition contained in the agreement.
FACILITATOR CHOSEN FOR CONTRACTOR SUSTAINABILITY REVIEW - The next phase of the logging contractor sustainability review is underway, as the Province works to improve the competitiveness of British Columbia forest sector contractors and licensees.
SPECIAL ENVOY: SOFTWOOD TRADE UPDATE - Special Envoy to the United States, David Emerson issued a statement following productive meetings in Ottawa and Washington D.C. where he advanced British Columbia’s interests in softwood lumber on March 8, 2017
USING INNOVATION TO DRIVE COMMERCIALIZATION IN B.C.’S FOREST SECTOR - The Province announced the launch of the Clean-Tech Innovation Strategy for the B.C. Forest Sector on March 2, 2017.
ON THE ROAD TO A SOLID CAREER: ABORIGINAL STUDENTS LEARN ROAD-BUILDING SKILLS - The Province is providing $95,000 so 10 Aboriginal students in the Campbell River-area can learn the skills needed for employment in B.C.’s road building and forestry machinery sector.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
HUNTING LICENCES NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE - Effective March 31, 2017, hunters now have the added convenience of buying their hunting licences online at: www.gov.bc.ca/hunting and, as of May 15, hunting licences will also be available at FrontCounter BC locations.
B.C. UPDATES, RELEASES 2017-2019 FISHING REGULATIONS - The Province has released the new, updated guide to freshwater fishing rules and regulations, Minister Thomson announced March 30.
BRITISH COLUMBIA TO INCREASE INVESTMENT IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT - As part of the Province’s long-standing commitment to healthy wildlife populations, Minister Thomson announced March 22, that all hunting licence revenue will be re-invested to enhance wildlife management activities.
OAK BAY GETS PROVINCIAL FUNDING FOR URBAN DEER RESEARCH PROJECT - The British Columbia government is providing the District of Oak Bay with $20,000 to support ongoing efforts to control urban deer, Minister Thomson announced March 16, 2017.