Forest industry could lose ground in Algonquin Park 0
Director of development and property for the County of Renfrew
Proposed provincial policy could set back gains made in the county forestry industry.
It was recently revealed to county officials the provincial government is re-evaluating the merit of the Ontario Park Board’s recommendations in the document Lightening the Ecological Footprint of Logging in Algonquin Provincial Park.
“We thought the report had been shelved two years ago,” explained Paul Moreau, Renfrew County’s director of the development and property.
As recent as January 2012 county officials met with provincial government members and were told the paper had been shelved, but the document has resurfaced.
The document was created back in April 2005 when the Minister of Natural Resources (MNR) asked the Ontario Parks board of directors to provide advice on how to lighten the ecological footprint of logging in Algonquin Park. The board accepted the assignment and after talking with the MNR and the Algonquin Forestry Authority the board prepared and presented its recommendations to the minister in January 2006.
The first recommendation calls for 241,032 hectares to be added to the protection zones, expanding the protected zones to 409,482 hectares, 54 per cent of the park, which would have an adverse effect on the county’s forestry industry.
“After retail and government it is our leading employer,” explained Jeff Muzzi, manager of forestry. “About a third of the wealth generation in the county comes from the forestry industry.”
The paper calls for logging in Algonquin Park to be limited in specific areas and completely cutback in other places including Crown Land surrounding the park.
“(It calls for) a reduction of harvest area and the restriction of when and where wood can be harvested in the park,” explained Mr. Moreau.
Unsure of what had changed to give the document a new life, county officials were shocked to learn the document had been revived.
“The county is concerned the reduction of logging in Algonquin Park will result in a loss of jobs in our forest industry,” noted Mr. Moreau.
Mr. Moreau noted six mills in the county would be directly affected if the document receives approval by the provincial government. Plus, the people who live in the county and harvest the wood out of the park could possibly lose their jobs.
Mr. Muzzi notes the resurfacing of the document could continue to erode a 200-year-old industry, at a time when county officials have been working to re-establish it.
In regards to the new document, the development and property committee recommended staff prepare a response to the provincial government outlining how the initiative will negatively impact the county.
Cyndi Mills is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist