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

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Soloman and Zev Nagler enjoy time on the beach at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park on a summer day. The Capital Regional District is in the process of determining whether to institute parking fees at this and eight other CRD parks. (Black Press Media file photo)
CRD parks committee rejects new Greater Victoria parking fees – again

More arguments against fee hikes, pay parking at nine parks, brought forward by committee members

Sooke Road will be down to a single lane Thursday night while crews work on a water main connection. (Pixabay stock image)
Sooke Road down to single lane for water main connection

Night work scheduled for Thursday, early Friday morning

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

(Black Press Media file photo)
Crash at Saanich, Victoria border results in non-life-threatening injuries

Cause remains under investigation, impairment not a factor, VicPD says

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Most Read