Clearwater mayor Merlin Blackwell. File photo

Clearwater mayor unimpressed with Forest Minister’s inaction on local tenure transfer

Mayor Merlin Blackwell says he’s ready to lead delegation to Victoria

District of Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell said he’s ready to lead a delegation to Victoria next week after an exchange between Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar and Forest Minister Doug Donaldson in the B.C. Legislature this week.

During the exchange, which took place during question period on Feb. 18, Milobar prodded Donaldson on his inaction regarding the tenure transfer of the Canfor Vavenby mill to Interfor, a move that needs to be approved by the minister under Bill 22, to ensure it’s in the public interest.

Donaldson said the lack of movement on the situation was because he had yet to see the proposal from either Canfor or Interfor.

Both Milobar and Blackwell felt this response was inadequate, as the Canfor Vavenby mill shutdown nine months ago — resulting in the loss of 172 jobs — and that should have been enough time for the ministry to take a proactive approach and find out where both companies stand.

“And this minister, all he can do is stand up and say, ‘I haven’t seen the paperwork yet.’ Maybe if the minister actually picked up the phone and found out where the paperwork is after nine months the uncertainty would actually be cleared up,” said Milobar during question period.

Blackwell echoed this sentiment in a recent Facebook post, saying the Canfor/Interfor tenure transfer was presented to the minister’s office on Nov. 7, 2019, and if the minister’s staff haven’t put it on his desk by now, then that failure is his, as well as Premier John Horgan’s leadership.

He added Donaldson’s response was disrespectful to those who’ve been struggling since the Vavenby mill closed, which include the loggers, contractors, their employees, and all the outside forestry workers who have been significantly affected for more than a year now.

“I want the Forest Minister to open the file and make a decision,” said Blackwell.

“I want our Premier to make him do it. We have lived in stress, in limbo, in doubt and uncertainty for long enough. We are done being patient and nice. Do your job.”

More to come.

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