Midway council asks Minister of Forests to explain implications of changing the point of apparisal for Interfor
At the last meeting of the Village of Midway’s city council on Monday, Mar. 15, they covered a wide range of topics with the most difficult being the request from International Forest Products Ltd. (Interfor) and the City of Grand Forks to change the point of appraisal for logging in the West Boundary.
Interfor has requested that Midway be removed as the point of appraisal for logs coming from the West Boundary. Currently, for the timber that is in the West Boundary, Interfor incurs hauling costs that are not recognized in the price of stumpage. According to the policies of the Ministry of Forests, stumpage rates are set based on hauling to the nearest mill, even if it is not operating. For the West Boundary, that mill has been the one located in Midway. If a company hauls logs past the point of appraisal, they incur extra hauling costs that are not recognized in the stumpage rate. This limits the amount of timber that Interfor will cut in that area because of the extensive costs cutting into their profit at a time when every bit counts.
“The cost to haul the wood from the West Boundary to Grand Forks isn’t recognized,” explained Ron Vautour, woods manager for Interfor – Grand Forks division. “We’re not looking for a subsidy or a hand-out. We simply want cost recognition of actual costs we incur. Until that is addressed we’re going to primarily target timber that is close to Grand Forks so that all of our haul costs are recognized.”
The immediate impact is that there will be reduced economic activity in the West Boundary until there is a change in the cost structure, said Vautour.
“If Midway is removed as the point of appraisal there would be no negative impacts for anybody in the region, only positives,” said Vautour. “It doesn’t affect Midway, it doesn’t affect Fox (Lumber), and it doesn’t affect Rock Creek. All the impacts would be positive. That means more people in the restaurants, more people in their hotels, more people employed because there would be more economic activity in the West Boundary.”
Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor said that the city is in full support of the change.
“We’d like (the Ministry) to change the rules for a while here and allow Interfor to charge against the cost of their cutting the transportation all the way to Grand Forks,” said Taylor. “It seems reasonable to me especially at this point when the government’s not making anything either. If things were booming and we were asking for this it would make no sense, but at a time when we’re trying to squeeze a profit out and keep everybody operating it doesn’t seem to have a downside.”
Midway Village Council decided to request a meeting with the Minister of Forests and the local MLA (John Slater) instead of making a final decision on the change of point of appraisal. They want to have some time to do further investigation and ensure that they have all the facts they will need to make an informed decision.
While the request for the change was initiated by Interfor and the City of Grand Forks, a regional discussion also took place at a meeting of the Boundary Economic Development Committee. Grace McGregor, chair of the BEDC and regional director for area C (Christina Lake) said that all the regional directors support the change. The City of Grand Forks and the City of Greenwood are also in favour of the change.
“I have some concerns about how this is going to look for the rest of the region,” said Mayor Randy Kappes. “They’ve (the BEDC) considered it a rush topic and I fear that they’re going to think that the village is not wanting to work along with them again. We just want to make sure that we find out the information and what is going on.”
Other Council News:
A delegation made a presentation requesting the village’s support for the John Boltz Memorial Community Run to be held in conjunction with the Kettle River Day on July 17. Council was pleased to support their initiative.
Policies and Procedures:
Council continued to review and update their policies and procedures at each meeting. This meeting included updates to: staff hiring; and the newsletter policy. At the next meeting of council they will review the animal control and meeting procedures