NDP want pause button hit on Liberal deal with WestFor
March 17, 2017
For immediate release.
HALIFAX – Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines should consult Nova Scotians before signing a deal with a consortium of mills, WestFor, that would give these mills access to a large area of forested Crown land in Queens, Shelburne, Digby, Yarmouth and Annapolis counties.
The deal was reported on in the fall of 2015. However, there are few details about this agreement. NDP Natural Resources Critic Sterling Belliveau is concerned that one of the largest allocations of Crown timber in the province’s history is taking place with little to no consultation.
“Minister Hines has said that an interim agreement is already in place, yet Nova Scotians have not been consulted. Now, he is talking about signing a 10-year deal?” said Belliveau. “Before a deal is negotiated, there needs to be public input and a number of questions must be answered. What will be the impact on smaller woodlot owners? Will this deal influence wood prices and demand? Will recreational users be restricted from accessing this land?”
The parcel is 566,600 hectares — roughly the same size as Prince Edward Island — and basically represents all Crown land west of Highway 102, which runs between Truro and Halifax. Approximately one-third of the parcel is made up of the former Bowater lands bought back by the Province in 2012.
NDP Environment critic Peterson-Rafuse is also concerned by rumours that the agreement may hand over responsibility for the environmental stewardship of the lands to West For.
“In my neck of the woods, I hear from people all the time who are concerned about the state of our forests. Community members deserve to be consulted on this agreement, especially if public access to the lands is at risk,” said Peterson-Rafuse. “Turning over the management of a piece of Crown land the size of PEI to a group of mills, without input from the communities that were instrumental in buying back the Bowater lands, worries me and it should worry the Minister of Environment.”
For more information, contact Kaley Kennedy at 902-229-6881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.