Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society JdF Trails

2012 Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society Anuual General Meeting

Guest Speaker: Arnie Campbell

The idea of a community forest has been near the surface for a number of years. It was the topic for a workshop hosted by the Shirley Education and Action Society in March 2008 and is mentioned also in the Strategic Vision for Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River published in September, 2008 as one possible element in establishing sustainable forestry and successful rural businesses.

Arnie Campbell is the current president of the Otter Point and Shirley Residents and Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) and Sid Jorna is the current president of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society (JdF CTS). In 2011, Campbell and Jorna were both volunteers on the citizens committee that worked out recommendations for revising the Otter Point Official Community Plan. From community inputs to this committee, it was clear that a community forest is still a desired asset for our area.

From their interest in the community and from their leadership positions, Campbell and Jorna have investigated different models of community forest found in British Columbia.

However, it is clear that neither OPSRRA nor the JdF Community Trails Society has the mandate to acquire and manage a community forest. What Campbell brought to the JdF CTS meeting was information on the problems and possibilities for a community forest.

A spur to action now is that when Admiral John Charles passed away in September 2010, he left his 65 acre [26.3 hectare] property in trust for five years. The property was registered as a private managed forest. Working with members of the Charles family, it may be possible to acquire this property as a community forest.

As well as the outline of Arnie Campbell's presentation below, please refer to two information papers written by Campbell for the community to consider when reviewing the Otter Point OCP. These are "False Economy: Buying Back Your Community Amenities" and "Living in a Forested Community". These papers are found at www.opsrra.ca

Outline for JDF Community Trails Presentation
  1. Different purposes of a community forest: logging; recreation; demonstration, tourism, restricted green space, land banking.
  2. Different governance models: foundation; society; co-op; municipal.
  3. Overview of the geographic area west of Sooke and the identification of possible sites for a community forest.
  4. Suggested uses: park; horse trails; cultural retreat; arborist training; adventure training; forest stewardship training; edible forest; research forest; outdoor classroom; field trips.
  5. The Admiral's property. Advantages to using this property: availability; existing zoning; existing trails; existing residence & services. Limitations to using this property: access from Highway 14; proximity to residential area; suitability of this forest for commercial logging.
  6. Challenges: finding the money to purchase; support of stakeholders; support of broader community; agreement on use(s); governance model; on-going expense of upkeep of access, building, trails, insurance; finding an organization to fundraise, acquire, operate and maintain the community forest.

Actions [and outcomes] to date:
  • November 2011: Met with representatives of the Charles family. [Overall, a positive response.]
  • December 2011: Raised idea of acquiring a community forest at an OPSRRA membership meeting. [Again, a positive response.]
  • January 2012: Met with JDFEA Regional Director and Alternate, Juan de Fuca MLA and CEO of The Land Conservancy. [A positive response but glad to be asked for ideas and not for funding.]
  • January 2012: Made contact with Royal Roads re assistance with a developing an entrepreneurial plan for a community forest. [Request for help with a business plan is being considered by the Entrepreneurial Opportunities program.]
  • February 2012: Met with Manager provincial Crown Lands Sales. [No Crown land is available due to First Nations priority.]
  • February 2012: Met with MoT Development Approvals Technician. [MoT completed a site visit to the Admiral's property and will provide an opinion about the sight lines and improvements that would be required if the driveway access to Hwy 14. was to be used for other than its present residential access purpose. Access to the adjoining family property off of Brutus Road or Corby Ridge Road is impractical because the road would have to be built at the property owner's expense over difficult (expensive) terrain.]

A Practical Way Ahead

Our current thinking is to stand up a registered Society with charitable status to fund raise, acquire the property and operate the Community Forest. To do this requires a lot of work. Perhaps the first step is to assemble a Steering Committee to work out the proposed Society Constitution. The steering Group should also identify willing directors and complete the paper work to form a Society. A strategy for fund raising needs to be developed.

We need community members to serve on the steering committee for any of the above to work.