Huu-ay-aht First Nations Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. addresses the HFN’s new agreement with Western Forest Products at a press conference Friday, Dec. 14 at Pacific Coast University in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. addresses the HFN’s new agreement with Western Forest Products at a press conference Friday, Dec. 14 at Pacific Coast University in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Vancouver Island First Nation buys limited interest in Western Forest Products

Huu-ay-aht First Nations enters into partnership with logging firm

Western Forest Products has sold ownership interest in its Port Alberni forest operation to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

The announcement was made Dec. 14 at Pacific Coast University in Port Alberni.

The purchase has been set up as a limited partnership for $7.2 million, representing a seven percent share for Huu-ay-aht. Assets in the limited partnership will consist of some of Western’s assets in its Port Alberni forest operation, including TFL 44. The deal makes room for Western to sell incremental interest in the limited partnership to the Huu-ay-aht in the future.

Western will still access fibre from TFL 44 to support its B.C. manufacturing facilities.

The announcement “is the first step toward implementing an innovative new framework for the ownership, cooperative management and operation of forestry on TFL 44 and throughout the Alberni Valley,” Huu-ay-aht lawyer Rob Botterell said.

Don Demens, president and CEO of Western Forest Products, said the deal “is a positive step towards increasing First Nations participation in the forest sector, which will benefit the Nation, local communities, Western and our employees.”

It will increase Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ participation in the forestry sector and create better stability for business. It will allow both parties to better manage the resource and share infrastructure, Demens added.

“We want to mutually work with Western,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. “What can we do to help generate wealth for Huu-ay-aht so we can do the things we need to do in our community…We have a rich forest; let’s make it work.”

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to expand across the land base. It makes for more efficient operations and will create more volume for Alberni,” Demens said.

“With the reduction of the land base here over the last 20 years there’s not enough volume here to support full operations in Port Alberni. In fact, only about 20 percent of the logs harvested in the Alberni Valley can actually fit into the mill. We import more logs into Port Alberni than go out of the mill.

“This creates a bigger land base to be able to get the right logs for the facility.”

Demens stopped short of saying WFP will have access to Huu-ay-aht treaty forest lands, saying they would have to work with the Huu-ay-aht on a standalone business agreement.

The deal builds on a Reconciliation Protocol Agreement the two parties signed earlier in 2018. “Huu-ay-aht and Western share the same goals, and together we have demonstrated a track record of cooperation and a willingness to work together to achieve reconciliation, and forestry revitalization,” the Huu-ay-aht noted in a prepared statement.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council called the agreement progressive and congratulated the Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

“This acquisition shows the nation’s determination to create a better future for its members—particularly with respect to future employment opportunities in Huu-ay-aht territory,” NTC president Judith Sayers said.

“Kudos as well to Western Forest Products for the innovation it displayed in working with a First Nation on a development that will progress the interests of both parties.”

Norm MacLeod, representing United Steelworkers Local 1-85, said the agreement is good for forestry in the Alberni Valley. “It will help the Alberni Valley grow and keep some of the wood here instead of being sent over the Hump,” he said.

“I’m hoping it will mean more jobs.”

Demens said there is still work to be done before the deal will be complete. “Once we end up with a final agreement, then the physical work would start, and the management,” Demens said.

“There’s a business structure that needs to be developed and put in place for the transaction to finalize.”

The deal is still subject to approval of Huu-ay-aht citizens and the provincial government. The Huu-ay-aht will hold community engagement sessions to discuss details with their citizens in January 2019.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Alberni Mid-Island Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, left, Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Derek Peters and Robert Dennis Sr., Western Forest Products’ President and CEO Don Demens and HFN lawyer Rob Botterell discuss a new partnership agreement between the forestry company and the coastal First Nations. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni Mid-Island Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, left, Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Derek Peters and Robert Dennis Sr., Western Forest Products’ President and CEO Don Demens and HFN lawyer Rob Botterell discuss a new partnership agreement between the forestry company and the coastal First Nations. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Pacific Coastal Airline flights 8P1543 on Feb. 22 and 8P1538 on Feb. 24 had cased of COVID-19 onboard, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. (Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)
Two flights between Kelowna and Victoria report COVID-19 exposures

Pacific Coastal Airlines flights on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 affected

Organizers say some 100 vehicles rallied against plans by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Victoria to sell 40 acres of its 98-acre property in Metchosin. (Barb Sawatsky/Submitted)
Proposed subdivision of green space in Metchosin draws 100 vehicles in protest

Plans for land owned by Boys Girls Club of Greater Victoria affects entire region, say residents

Sgt. Sandrine Perry in the Oak Bay Police Department interview room that has been softened with household features to better accommodate survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay police interview room gets a makeover

Room made less daunting for victims of trauma

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic, operated by Island Health, has opened at the University of Victoria’s McKinnon Gym. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at University of Victoria

Clinic is staffed and operated by Island Health

Aerial view of the Capital Regional District residuals treatment facility at Hartland Landfill where residual solids are turned into Class A biosolids. (Photo courtesy CRD)
Plant closure sends more biosolids to Hartland Landfill

Saanich residents are concerned they were never consulted

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

Most Read