Policy & Legislation

Update: Grandfathering Undersized Managed Forest Properties

BC Assessment & Managed Forest PowerPoint slidesAt PFLA’s 2015 conference Tina Ireland presented on behalf of BC Assessment. Part of that discussion included an announcement about the review process BC Assessment was undertaking around the practice of grandfathering undersized Managed Forest properties.

To date, there has been some uncertainty around the issue. The Managed Forest Council’s February newsletter includes information that sheds light on the situation.

In case you missed it, we’ve included the information below.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Managed Forest Council.

Here’s what the Managed Forest Council had to say in their February newsletter:

Grandfathering of Existing Undersized Managed Forests

BC Assessment legislation requires a Managed Forest (MF) to be at least 25 hectares in size. In 2004, owners of MF land less than 25 hectares were provided the option of having their undersized MF land remain as BC Assessment Managed Forest Land class 07.

There has been uncertainty regarding the eligibility of undersized MFs in the program once they are sold. BC Assessment has confirmed with our office that future sales of undersized MFs will not automatically trigger their removal from the program.

New owners of undersized MFs wanting to stay in the program, and who can demonstrate the land is a viable undersized MF, will be required to submit a new management commitment to the MF Council. If the management commitment is accepted by Council, our office will recommend to BC Assessment that the property continue as a viable undersized MF.

5 Messages Every Candidate Should Know About Private Forestry

The next provincial general election in British Columbia is scheduled for May 9, 2017.

With any election comes a swarm of pre-election activities and a host of new candidates.

Because BC’s private managed forest lands are located around some of Canada’s fastest growing communities, private forestry is often a target of discussion.

PFLA’s goal is to make it as easy and painless as possible for candidates to learn the facts about private forestry.

If you know any candidates who might benefit from some support in helping to understand private forestry better, please let us know.

If you’re keen to find more information, to share with your local candidate, about the Managed Forest Program, or private forest stewardship in general, please contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

In the meantime, if a candidate knocks on your door, or you’re inclined to knock on their door, or for some other reason you find yourself with 60 seconds to talk to your local candidate, here are five key messages to share about private forestry in British Columbia.

  1. Private managed forest owners are the only landowners in B.C. committed and legally bound to grow and harvest trees. Between 10 and 15 million seedlings are planted on BC’s private managed forest lands each year. That’s over 100 million trees in the past decade alone.
  1. Private managed forest land is governed by over 30 acts and regulations that protect key public environmental values including water quality, fish habitat, soil productivity and critical wildlife habitat.
  1. Annually, BC’s private forest lands provide 5,000 jobs, contribute over $1 billion in economic activity and generate $150 million in tax revenue.
  1. PFLA members have a solid track record of responsible forestry practices and regular community communications. We make every reasonable effort to talk with our neighbours and let community members know what’s happening with our operations.
  1. Forest owners have a positive story to tell and this is a great opportunity to share that story. Invite your candidate out into the woods to see firsthand how we manage our forests. Offer to help with any other questions they might have—keep it simple, keep it positive, keep it friendly.

Important Notice from BC Assessment

BC Assessment has asked PFLA to alert members that two aspects of tax law have caused significant concern for some purchasers of private managed forest land:

  1. Purchasers of managed forest land may be responsible for paying taxes on timber previously harvested by the Vendor; and,
  2. Purchasers of managed forest land may be responsible for paying exit fees to the Managed Forest Council if the property is removed from managed forest class.

These points are explained in detail below. Or you can download the full pdf document IMPORTANT NOTICE: Purchasers of Private Managed Forest Land

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Bill Hampton by email: managedforest@bcassessment.ca or phone: 1-866-valueBC (825-8322), Ext 00225.

BC Assessment is committed to providing, fair, accurate and reliable assessment services and property information for British Columbia. As part of honouring that commitment, we are providing this Important Notice to Purchasers of Private Managed Forest Land to ensure they are aware that:

  • The land may be assessed at a higher value to account for the economic benefit of timber previously harvested on that land; and,
  • Exit fees, as administered by the Managed Forest Council, may be charged if the property is removed from managed forest land class.

Private managed forest land and harvested timber are valued on the basis of legislated rates prescribed by BC Assessment through regulation each year and given Class 7 – Private Managed Forest Land. This property class is valued on a two-part basis, as detailed in Section 24 of the Assessment Act:

  • Bare land value, which incorporates such factors as soil quality, accessibility, topography, parcel size and location; and,
  • Added value of the timber on the land, which becomes assessable when it is harvested:
    • For example, timber harvested in the 2015 calendar year will show as added value on the 2017 Property Assessment Notice. For property taxes payable in the summer of 2017, part of the value may also come from the harvesting of trees two years previously, i.e. timber harvested in the 2015 calendar year.

Prospective purchasers of property classed as private managed forest land are advised to enquire about previous timber harvesting on the property and its potential property tax implications.

Exit fees may be incurred for properties removed from managed forest land class. The exit fee is intended to encourage long-term participation in the Managed Forest Program and is applied to property that is removed from managed forest land class prior to fifteen years enrolment. These fees are administered by the Managed Forest Council.

For more Information on exit fees, please visit the Managed Forest Council website at mfcouncil.ca or call (250) 386-5737.

For information on Managed Forest Land classification or details regarding your Managed Forest property assessment, please contact us at:

BC Assessment – Managed Forest
400 – 3450 Uptown Blvd
Victoria, BC V8Z 0B9
Email: managedforest@bcassessment.ca
Phone: 1-866-valueBC (825-8322), Ext 00225

Regards,

BC Assessment

CAFO and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) sign MOU

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-28-14-pmAfter almost two years of discussion, the Canadian Association of Forest Owners (CAFO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) (formerly Environment Canada) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to explore how forest certification might satisfy the requirements for “effective protection” under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The MOU describes how CAFO and ECCC will establish pilot projects, on CAFO members’ land, to examine how the requirements for wildlife and habitat protection, currently included in forest certification standards, align with the protection requirements of SARA.

Chris Lee explains, ”By looking at how the certification requirements line up with the legislation, we can see where there may be gaps, and if there are any, how to best address those gaps. Ultimately, the goal is to revise existing forest certification schemes so they address all the requirements of SARA. This way, the ECCC Minister can make a determination of ‘effective protection’ (the official terminology of the Act) when a forest is certified to a recognized certification system.”

The revision of certification systems could also involve the development of a species at risk module that would be added to existing certification standards and would incorporate any additional requirements that may come to light as part of the pilot projects under the MOU.

The MOU focuses on CAFO members’ private land, but many CAFO members also manage public land and companies operating on public land have expressed interest in this work. The idea is to start with private land, to make this complicated process slightly less complicated, with the hope that a similar approach can be applied to public land. To this end, the provinces and forest companies operating on public land will be kept informed as the pilot projects develop.

Since migratory birds and the Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA) are closely linked with species at risk, the MOU also includes steps to consider how the challenge of incidental take may be addressed through the work of the pilot projects.

The next steps in the process include:

  • Identify CAFO members willing to put a portion of their land base forward for pilot projects
  • Establish working groups at each project site
  • Determine a national steering committee (CAFO members and ECCC staff) to oversee progress and report back through each organization

Why Forest Owners Should Be Aware Of The Softwood Lumber Dispute

rsz_img_3622The status of the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the U.S. is that the parties have until October 2016 to reach an agreement about rules for managed trade on lumber imports into the U.S.

If an agreement is not reached by October, the U.S. Lumber Coalition could, once again, be in a position to levy anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imported Canadian lumber. The levy is not known at this time, but current expectation, based on history, is that the duty will be as high as 25%.

During past disputes, whenever U.S. duties were imposed on Canadian lumber, the domestic log price (paid by B.C. sawmills) was reduced accordingly. This is bad news for B.C.’s forest owners because it has a direct and immediate effect on log markets and land values.

For a long time, the U.S. has cited Canada’s private land log export restrictions as evidence of a subsidy to Canadian lumber mills. It’s expected that the next SLA agreement, resulting from the current round of negotiations, could include quotas, import levies or a combination of both. This would also be bad news for B.C.’s forest owners.

Matters will be made worse if Canada agrees to quotas and taxes that reduce domestic log prices, while maintaining private land log export restrictions. This scenario is a “double whammy” for B.C.’s private tree growers. Not only would we be required to offer logs to domestic mills at below international prices, we would also have to accept even further reduced domestic log prices.

If we’re able to freely shift our sales to international markets at international prices, there’s no harm done; however, if current Canadian log export restrictions are maintained tree growers will continue to be held hostage to an artificially suppressed B.C. domestic log market.

In 2015, when Canada’s dairy farmers were concerned about the potentially negative impacts of allowing minor volumes of foreign dairy products access to Canadian markets under the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, the federal government immediately offered them support with talk of generous compensation.

B.C.’s forest owners are curious to see if their investments in growing tree crops might be treated with the same level of respect as herds of cows.

2016 Update from the Managed Forest Council

A big PFLA thanks to Phil O’Connor for presenting an update from the Managed Forest Council at our 2016 conference held June 2nd, at Painter’s Lodge, in Campbell River.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’ve included the complete PowerPoint presentation below. Click on the arrows to move through the slides.

You can also follow this link to view a pdf of the presentation: 2016 Managed Forest Council Update

 

Opportunity to Comment: Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation

Ministry of EnvironmentThanks to a communication from Glen Okrainetz (Manager, Clean Air Section Environmental Standards Branch, Ministry of Environment) we’re aware of an opportunity to comment on proposed changes to the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation.

The Ministry of Environment is in the process of revising the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR). The OBSCR regulates most open burning of vegetative debris in BC.

Following extensive consultations, including intentions papers in 2008 and 2010 and engagement with a stakeholder review group through 2011-13, the ministry has updated proposed revisions to the regulation.

The proposed revisions are intended to:

  1. Improve air quality in populated areas
  2.  Simplify burning requirements in remote areas
  3. Support enforcement
  4. Encourage use of cleaner technologies
  5. Provide flexibility for community wildfire protection

An information update describing the proposed approach is now posted on the ministry’s open burning regulatory review website and available for public comment until July 21, 2016.

The ministry plans to conduct a series of webinars on the proposed revisions, including a general overview webinar and information targeted to municipal, agriculture and forestry interests. If you are interested in participating in one of these webinars, please contact the email or mail addresses below.

If you have any questions or comments about the ministry’s proposed revisions, please submit them by e-mail or mail to the addresses below by July 21, 2016.

Email:   OBSCR@gov.bc.ca
Mail:     PO Box 28159 Westshore RPO, Victoria B.C. V9B 6K8

All comments received through the webinars, mail or email will be compiled and reviewed by ministry staff prior to final drafting of the revised regulation. The ministry intends to complete revisions to the regulation in 2016.