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

Just Posted

Ma Miller’s Pub in Langford. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Historic Langford pub serves up some spirits

Ghostly experiences at Ma Miller’s pub

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
WorkSafe BC investigating man’s death during Oak Bay tree removal

Man was working for contracted tree removal company when incident occurred

A notice on the door of the Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. says it closes permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks location to close permanently after 16 years

Residents association seeks reason for closure set for Oct. 25

The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
Sexual assault suspect sought by West Shore RCMP

Police are looking for help identifying this man

Environmental advocate, Dorothy Chambers holds up the body of Ollie, a well-known Great Horned owl found dead in Cuthbert Holmes Park on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)
Poison suspected after well-known owl found dead in Saanich park

Body of Ollie the Great Horned owl discovered in Cuthbert Holmes Park

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read