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forest renewal

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No longer looking to the stars for economic forecasts, the Opposition spent most of this week hammering the government about Forest Renewal B.C., and whether the $800 million fund will be used to help pay off the debt. West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling zoomed back from Victoria Monday afternoon to become Mayor Ted Nebbeling for Monday’s council meeting, but following the meeting he outlined some of the Liberal’s concerns. "The super stumpage fee, two-thirds of which goes to FRBC, is money collected from small logging firms," Nebbeling said. The FRBC fund was set up two years ago by the NDP government specifically for new projects to renew the forest, the industry or the workforce. Legislation says that the funds can only be used for those purposes but Nebbeling say he suspects 30-40 per cent of the funds are going to the Ministry of Environment or Ministry of Forests to fund projects. The Soo Coalition, a pro-forestry lobby in the Sea to Sky Corridor, has also been asking questions about where FRBC funds are being spent in the corridor. The government’s announcement two weeks ago that it wouldn’t have a balanced budget and that the deficit could reach $700 million has fuelled speculation that the NDP would dip into the $800 million FRBC fund to present a better financial picture. The NDP avoided a direct answer to the question several times during Question Periods this week. On Wednesday in the legislature Nebbeling asked Yale-Lillooet MLA Harry Lali if he would stick to his statement of two years ago. On April 27, 1994 in the legislature Lali said: "The money will not go into general revenue and no greedy minister — it doesn’t matter what party or government they may represent — will be able to dip their fingers into the pot." Nebbeling suggested the whole forest industry is in disarray. "Nobody dares make a decision in the district offices anymore," he said.

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