Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, has released the following statement regarding the transfer of a forest licence from Conifex to Fort St. James Forest Products:

“On Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, I approved the transfer of a forest license and associated road permits from Conifex Timber Inc. to Fort St. James Forest Products, a subsidiary of Hampton Lumber Mills. After a comprehensive review of this public asset, I determined that this transfer is in the public interest and will benefit British Columbians.

“As a condition of the transfer, Hampton has committed to building a new mill in Fort St. James that will be operational within 36 months of closing the transaction with Conifex. It is my expectation that Hampton will continue to work closely with First Nations to develop business and capacity-building arrangements and hire local workers. In addition, it must meet with the United Steelworkers’ local, and continue discussions with Fort St. James Green Energy and local logging contractors.

“I approved this tenure transfer under changes to the Forest Act this government passed in the spring legislative session in Bill 22. Before Bill 22 changes, the government had little say when companies wanted to trade or sell tenure. Now, those companies must be fully engaged with First Nations, workers, and local governments before any tenure transfer would be considered. This is one sizeable step in making sure that the people who live near the forests are first in line to benefit from that resource.

“The ministry received a considerable response from the citizens of British Columbia, from local governments and from First Nations to help me understand the extent of the public interest for this transfer. We also ensured that the transfer was not detrimental to marketing fibre in B.C.

“I’m happy with the seriousness with which Hampton approached this process and its willingness to work with First Nations, local governments and the workers in the region.

“This is the first approval of a tenure transfer under the recent legislative amendments. As such, I’m confident this approval will help the people of B.C. and support a vibrant and diverse forest sector.”