To say that forestry is important in Port McNeill is an understatement. In fact, 82% of its residents derive their income from the sector. Indirect employment opportunities are also generated in the form of local businesses like hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.
Past, Present and Future
Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland recognises the importance of forestry in her town. “We were, and continue to be the logging capital of BC,” says Ackland. Trees are a heritage for our future, and they should be celebrated, looked after, maintained, and sustained for the future.”
The Mayor is also hopeful for the future of forestry in Port McNeill. “I believe that industry and the environment can co-exist,” says Ackland. “We have some of the harshest oversight environmentally here on the north coast because we don’t want to be damaging our streams, our oceans, and our wildlife. We should be celebrating our practices of sustainability as a community as we have a lot to be proud of.”
A prosperous forestry sector also bodes well for the rest of BC, adds Ackland. “We derive a lot of the provincial income from logging, so it’s important to support small communities and sustain those communities.”
Forestry and the Community
A recent partnership between Port McNeill, Port Hardy, and Port Alice created a community forest, shared and managed between the three communities. The project came to fruition thanks to the efforts of foresters, business owners, recreationists, and community champions.
Although it’s the second smallest community forest in the province, a recent harvest of a block of hemlock yielded a net profit of $1.2 million, shared between the three communities, to be used a reserve fund to offset the need for tax increases while planning for the future.