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More than $500,000 headed to Sechelt from Community Forest

Dividends of over a half million dollars to benefit the community
Community forest firewood program
SCCF's Warren Hansen and Sara Zielman do hands on work with their employers Firewood program in addition to their regular duties. File photo.

The District of Sechelt will be receiving $525,890 from 2021 Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) operations.

Announcement of the fund transfers was made at SCCF 2022 Annual General Meeting on April 25.

All dividends paid by the Sunshine Coast Community Forest go into the Sunshine Coast Community Forest Legacy Fund for projects that benefit the community.

SCCF manages the Legacy Fund program and has a committee that reviews and makes recommendations to Sechelt Council on awards to qualified projects. “At the beginning, the Community Forest didn’t have a great deal of surplus funds as capital reserves were required to operate, but began paying what they called a regular dividend of $25,890 to the District of Sechelt, which was a basic return on investment for the funds the District of Sechelt put up to start the Community Forest,” SCCF administrator Sara Zieleman, told Coast Reporter via email. “Once the Community Forest had more substantial profits the board began to consider free cash annually, and pay an extraordinary dividend, as opposed to the regular dividend, based on the cash position and forecast at the time.”

In 2021, SCCF’s sales of timber netted $2.9 million from harvesting of 18,500 cubic metres logged on the Coast. Three quarters of that timber was sold off-Coast, with the rest purchased by local interests. All harvesting was done by Coast-based contractors.

In addition to distributing revenues, AGM business included confirmation of the SCCF board of directors. Current chairperson Kathleen Suddes will be returning to the board that she has volunteered on since 2018. A decision on who will chair that body will be made at the first board meeting following the AGM. At the event, Suddes spoke about how becoming involved with SCCF changed her view of what is possible within community forestry.

Building on that theme was featured speaker habitat ecologist Laurie Kremsater who outlined SCCF’s 2021 efforts to create a “made on the Sunshine Coast” ecosystem-based management system for its tenure.

That practice will look at retaining trees based on age, as well as retaining certain species based on how much supply is left, the need to manage invasives, and on seral patterns. Those patterns look at forest area aging or succession and how that effects landscape and biological diversity. Variations in natural conditions are needed to support the viability of different plant and animal populations. “Why is an old forest important; because biodiversity matters,” Kremsater said.

SCCF operations manager Warren Hansen also spoke at the event highlighting efforts made to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities including improvements to public access in the Phare Lake and Carlson Point areas. He said that in 2022, a summer student was being hired to help create a plan to develop more recreation sites and for the co-management of those new assets with community group partners.

The meeting was a hybrid online-in person event. Coast Reporter attended virtually, and experienced difficulties with both the audio and video signals. From the video that was available, it is estimated that a handful of members of the public, in addition to SCCF staff, consultants and board members, were at the in person event, which was hosted at the Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre. Representing the District of Sechelt and attending in person were Coun. Tom Lamb and Brenda Rowe.