Despite sending much less timber to market than forecast, the Sunshine Coast Community Forest finished 2017 in the black.
Glen Bonderud of Sechelt Community Projects (SCPI), the district-owned company that manages the forest, gave his fourth-quarter update to Sechelt council Feb. 21.
Bonderud’s report shows the final volume harvested was 28,542 cubic metres – well below the 43,600 cubic metres SCPI was planning for at the beginning of 2017.
All the timber came from the area burned during the Old Sechelt Mine wildfire of 2015.
“The average of $117 [per cubic metre] was better than we thought it would be… prices have gone up, demand has gone up and some of the buyers were willing to overlook some of the [imperfections],” Bonderud told councillors.
He said the U.S. is a big market for cedar, which is creating high demand from the B.C. mills SCPI sells to. Fir, according to Bonderud, is typically bound for export to Belgium, Japan and Australia while the market for hemlock remains weak.
The result was a net income of $639,814 for 2017, much better than the projected loss of around $200,000 SCPI had built into its budget.
“As long as the U.S. housing market stays steady, I think we have a good year ahead of us,” Bonderud said.
Bonderud did not discuss the cutblocks in the East Wilson Creek area and Halfmoon Bay with council, but his written report said one of the reasons the harvest volume was lower than expected was that “the plan of harvesting East Wilson in 2017 was delayed until 2018.”
Part of the delay was the result of legal action by the group Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), which led to a brief injunction against the logging. The issues raised by ELF around community consultation will be heard by the courts starting March 5.
Bonderud’s written report goes on to say, “I cannot discuss too much the legal action that ELF has initiated but it is common knowledge the injunction was lifted, and we will see in March the results of the review. I know ELF has canvassed council to intervene and then criticized council for not intervening. While I withhold my comments, that does not seem to apply to ELF and their supporters. Our contractor has been bothered and one of his employees intimidated. I would caution council that since we are a subsidiary of the District of Sechelt [that] ELF has in effect initiated an action involving a District subsidiary, please act accordingly and limit your communications with them.”
In his oral report, Bonderud also noted that SCPI chose not to send pulp logs to market from the fire area, which was one of the reasons they issued a higher number of firewood permits than usual, and he offered support for Sechelt council’s effort to get Wormy Lake formally named John Phare Lake after the Roberts Creek faller who died fighting the 2015 fire.
“John was very much a treasure for us,” Bonderud said of Phare who was one of SCPI’s main contractors from the time the Community Forest was formed in 2006.