Page 5 of 6
Buying Local – a community commitment
The Maple Valley, Washington-based Pacific Logging Congress (PLC) recently held its summer meeting in Whistler.
The PLC has a mission to fulfill the need to provide sound technical education about the forest industry. Founded in 1909, and with members from B.C. and the Pacific Northwest, it has sought to educate politicians, educators, their students and the general public on both sides of the border about the need for sound, responsible forestry to supply global needs for wood fibre.
Two interesting aspects of the meeting struck a chord with our members who attended.
The first was the visit to the Whistler Farmers' Market. This weekly event showcases the community's best local foods, artisans and entertainers brought together to encourage the "buy local" philosophy that resonates throughout Whistler and with tourists.
Local wines, dairy, meat and baked goods are all on offer, not only at the market, but also in the shops and restaurants throughout town. It speaks to a growing approach to utilizing local fare and in doing so, triggering positive effects on the local economy and the welfare of those who raise what we eat and produce what we buy.
It is hard to argue that this is not a positive example of growing community support for local business, one that is being adopted by more and more communities across B.C.
Community support for local production and consumption was not as evident, however, when the group toured the local Cheakamus Community Forest where we learned of the positive achievements, but ongoing challenges local manager's face in management of their forest for community, recreation, wildlife and yes, forest products.
Our tour guide, Stirling Angus, a professional, consulting forester and Squamish resident, works on a team that manages the forest with direction provided by a tripartite board of directors comprised of two local First Nations and Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).
While the forest is managed for many uses including tourism (a number of mountain bikers road past our group while on tour), developing timber for harvest has been a constant struggle since inception. In fact, the allowable harvest on the forest has never been achieved as harvest proposals are typically scrutinized and reduced by residents.
For a community that is so focused on the "buy locally" mantra, it seems odd that the philosophy stutters when it comes to renewable forest products. Wood is used extensively in the area and the sustainable and versatile nature of B.C.'s wood products was an area of focus for the B.C. government during the Whistler 2010 Olympics.
B.C.'s forests and in particular, the Cheakamus Community Forest, are managed sustainably, for a variety of natural resource values and the board of directors encourages local milling of logs produced from the community forest with the rest sold to the domestic B.C. market.
Despite this opportunity, buy locally does not apply as readily here as some residents shun the notion of local logging, local forest products production and local First Nations employment.
Local food? Yes. Local wines? Yes. Local artisans? Yes. Local wood? Perhaps not in my back yard!
It seems to us, the forest professionals that work across B.C. to deliver sustainable forest management, that continued support for the Cheakamus Community Forest from all of the residents of Whistler and acknowledgement of the sustainably, the First Nations employment and the contribution to the local community is warranted as it does with other community-based businesses.
Jonathan Lok, President
The Society of Consulting Foresters of BC
This is a note of "thanks" to the Pemberton residents, business people and the farming community.
This past Sunday, I was one of 2,600 Ironman Canada competitors that invaded your community. While IM is a wonderful event I recognize that it creates many inconveniences for the local people and I want to very sincerely thank the Pemberton community for their patience and good will — particularly those who came and cheered us on.