Auditor General Report slams BC Government for Lack of Public Consultation on TFL Land Deletions

July 16, 2008

BC’s Auditor General John Doyle released a report today criticizing the provincial government for its January 2007 decision to remove over 28,000 hectares of private lands from three Vancouver Island Tree Farm Licences held by Western Forest Products.

The ELC initiated a request for an audit in November 2007 on behalf of the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt Society. The request was supported by a broad coalition of citizens, environmental organizations, First Nations and union workers.

The Auditor General’s 73-page report assessed whether the decision adequately considered the public interest. The conclusion was a resounding no.

“We concluded that the removal of the private land from TFLs 6, 19 and 25 was approved without sufficient regard for the public interest,” Doyle states in the report.

According to the report, the government’s decision was made without proper analysis. Not only was there not enough consultation, the Ministry of Forest and Range didn’t identify and communicate with all the appropriate stakeholders, including those within government. They neglected to take into account the negative impacts of this decision, or of past land deletion decisions, and ultimately put corporate interests before public interests.

The report has launched other actions:

      • Highlighting a need to better understand government’s approach to public consultation, the Auditor General’s office is reviewing that issue and expects to release a report in October or November 2008; and
      • The Auditor General also raised concerns about a potential Ministerial conflict, which the Conflict of Interest Commissioner is now investigating.The lands involved in the deletion decision include large portions of the wild coast currently accessible to residents of southern Vancouver Island.

Related Links:

UPDATE: Subdivision Application – Request for Public Hearing Documents:

Read the Executive Summary: Request for Public Hearings

Read the Executive Summary: Are Western Forest Product’s Subdivision Applications in the Public Interest?

Read the letter from Irene Faulkner, Counsel for Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt to the Ministry of Transportation

Read the full Submission to the Provincial Approving Officer

Above: TFL lands overlooking French Beach.