Lorne Scheffer was beaming as he provided Lake Cowichan Chamber of Commerce members with an update on the work of the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative.
And the smile got a little broader following his speech when he was named the 2017 Lake Cowichan Citizen of the Year.
As the chair of the Forest Co-operative, Scheffer has led the organization in its 10-year quest to obtain a new long term Community Forest Agreement to replace the fixed term 20-year licence they knew would expire in 2017.
“We’re going to be able to make an announcement very soon,” Scheffer said shortly after receiving the award from Chamber vice-president Brent Clancy at the annual general meeting.
“We’re just waiting to hear from the Ministry but we expect the minister to be here later this year and it will be great news for the Cowichan Lake region,” Scheffer said, confident the new licence is on the way.
Scheffer was a popular choice for the prestigious award.
He has tirelessly inspired and guided the Forest Co-operative board of directors to work closely with the Pacheedaht First Nation near Port Renfrew through the process, the Chamber said.
The Forest Co-operative came into being following the closing of forest products operations in the Lake Cowichan area and was meant to soften the economic blow to the community.
“Over the years, under Lorne’s guidance and the support of community members on the board of directors, the Forest Co-op developed logging policies and marketing arrangements that enable smaller sawmills in the Cowichan Valley and the central Island to obtain log supply and support local employment,” the Chamber added.
Profits generated by the Forest Co-op are put back into the community through scholarships, aid to local non-profits and local infrastructure. During 2017, local funding totaled more than $82,000.
Among the larger beneficiaries were the Kaatza Museum expansion ($26,391), Canada Trail Renovation ($30,000) and Memory Lane Renovation ($10,000).
The Legion, the food bank and the Lady of the Lake Society were other organizations that received support from the Forest Co-operative.