The Port Alice mill closure illustrates how the Liberals’ new forest schemes benefit corporations at the expense of communities.
Last year’s legislative changes allowed companies to transfer tenure over public lands among themselves without government approval. The new laws also rescinded the requirement to hold public hearings in affected communities.
The new legislation lets “the market decide” who controls BC precious public forests, leaving it up to companies to buy or sell tenure at their whim. Unfortunately, as the bankruptcy and the fraud allegations against the new owner of the Port Alice mill show, the market does a very poor job at protecting workers and communities.
This summer LaPointe Partners took over the Port Alice mill and licence as part of Doman’s complicated bankruptcy restructuring. This happened without any goverment approval or public hearings.
The bankruptcy court and Doman’s creditors made the decision that LaPointe would be the best steward of Port Alice’s future.
Now, the new owners are under investigation by the RCMP, have declared bankruptcy, and have decided to close the mill. The community is again left out as the future of their town is negotiated in bankruptcy court.
Is this the way we should decide who gets to control BC’s public forests?
It is unclear whether the previously required public hearings and government approval would have resulted in better due diligence and protected Port Alice from another mill closure.
However, before the government’s “market-driven” policies were implemented, at least the public would have been able to ask questions about the efficacy of LaPointe Partners’ proposal and forced government to address their concerns with conditions before approval was granted.
BC resource communities deserve better than having their future determined by corporate bigwigs, bankruptcy courts and the market. People deserve a say in decisions that affect their lives, their communities, their future. Too bad the Liberals think otherwise.