The Village of Burns Lake, local First Nations and community groups have reaped benefits worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Burns Lake Community Forest (BLComfor) during the past year, according to the organization’s newly released annual report.
The report, which details BLComfor’s activities and finances for the October 2016-November 2017 fiscal year, was released on May 17 at the company’s annual general meeting.
The report shows that BLComfor’s First Nation partners, Burns Lake Band and Wet’suwet’en First Nation, each received about $412,000, as did the company’s sole shareholder, the Village of Burns Lake.
That accounts for about 70 percent of net profits that reached $1,774,863, with the other 30 percent going towards operating costs. “We had a fairly good year,” said BLComfor general manager Frank Varga.
He stressed that economic ramifications go beyond Comfor’s direct financial contributions, with the community forest generating more than 123,600 hours of employment in the last fiscal year.
Money generated through the forest also stimulates the local economy through spending at businesses in the community, he said.
Local initiatives receive donations
The report notes that BLComfor made donations worth over $283,000 to a wide variety of local initiatives and groups in the Lakes Timber Supply Area, ranging from sports teams to educational initiatives and badly needed social services. “I think it’s a huge social and economic benefit for the local community,” Varga said.
The report lists over 50 donations, with examples including $1,000 for a hot lunch program at Grassy Plains School and $5,000 for a summer camp at the Lakeside Multiplex.
By sponsoring local atheletics, such as $5,000 for a high school mountain bike team’s participation in provincial championships, Comfor helps young people to excell in sports that are often costly for participants, said Varga.
“That in itself is huge,” he said, adding that funding for cultural activities, including $10,000 for the Lakes District Arts Council, makes Burns Lake more vibrant.
BLComfor also provided $11,700 towards wages for IT staff at the Burns Lake Public Library, three $1,000 scholarships for students at Lakes District Secondary School and $4,200 for Lakes Literacy’s Words on Wheels bookmobile service to the Southside.
Some of the big ticket items also included a donation worth over $46,000 towards a training facility for the Burns Lake Fire Training Society, and a donation worth nearly $30,000 for a fire-suppression sprinkler system for the Lakes District Senior Housing Association.