Nelson Mayor John Dooley during the Onagawa fundraising efforts.

Hoping for better beyond 50

The management transfer of Meadow Creek Cedar’s forest license is the first bit of good news in years concerning this woeful company.

The management transfer of Meadow Creek Cedar’s forest license is the first bit of good news in years concerning this woeful company.

The promise of a stable, local fibre supply is enough for the owners of South Slocan’s Gold Island Forest Products and its sister companies to try to negotiate the numerous hurdles and liabilities that stand in the way of acquiring the currently-suspended license.

For many Lardeau Valley residents, however, it’s cold comfort since the shuttered Cooper Creek sawmill is not part of the deal. Logs will still leave the immediate area, although Gold Island general manager Trevor Kanigan says they are open to working with anyone who wants to set up a processing facility.

Having written 50 news stories and editorials over the last two years about Meadow Creek Cedar’s ever-declining fortunes, I look forward to chronicling the license’s rehabilitation, but a full-scale turnaround of that region’s forest industry still seems a ways off.

RELIEF FUND WITHOUT A CAUSE: Local blogger and council watcher Claus Schunke was back before Nelson city council last week demanding answers about the Onagawa fund.

The $40,000 raised in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 — including a $10,000 donation from the city itself — remains in a bank account, unspent.

In a sometimes testy exchange, Schunke called for the money to be turned over to the Japanese Red Cross posthaste rather than continue to be earmarked for a nebulous project involving Onagawa, Nelson’s quasi-sister city.

He has a point.

A variety of uses have been suggested for the money, from scholarships to seniors housing to a friendship cafe, and lately, a truck. Mayor John Dooley says trying to pin something down has been stymied in part by erratic communication with Onagawa, which was devastated by the disaster.

But Schunke argues many who donated, through a variety of fundraisers, did so under the impression the money would go to short-term relief — and they might not have given so generously had they known the actual purpose and timeline was undefined.

Aside from collecting minimal interest, the money isn’t doing anyone any good. It’s time to end the protracted debate. And once the disposition is finally chosen, it would only be fair to offer those holding receipts a refund if they wish.

I believe the ad hoc committee that spearheaded the effort acted with the best of intentions, but this case study suggests if you’re going to have a fundraiser, it’s best to identify the cause first.

ELECTORAL CARTOGRAPHY: In the face of strong opposition to their first draft, I have no doubt the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission will draw a saner map of the local federal riding.

The notions of moving Nelson to the Kootenay-Columbia riding, putting Trail and Fruitvale in different ridings, and lumping much of West Kootenay with Penticton were all condemned at public hearings last month. (Past Conservative candidate Stephen Hill was about the only one who spoke in favour.)

Previous electoral commissions, both provincial and federal, have generally listened to such submissions and revised their proposals accordingly. I’d be very surprised if they don’t do the same this time and come back with something more geographically palatable.

Rural Kaslo regional district director Andy Shadrack’s suggestion to reunite most or all of West Kootenay in the same riding makes eminent sense. (Since 2004, Upper Arrow Lake, the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, and Lardeau Valley have all been part of Kootenay-Columbia.)

Let’s hope the commission agrees.

BLAME IT ON HERB: So much for the Herb-did-it defence.

A Nelson man charged with growing dope told a jury last month that while he knew about the operation in his basement, it belonged to an extended family member named Herb — who, he claimed, disappeared shortly before police busted the place.

“There is no Herb. You are Herb, right?” the prosecutor asked. The man said no, but the jury didn’t buy his testimony and convicted him.

Herb does exist, however. He sent us an email, understandably upset at having his name mentioned in court and this newspaper. He denied being a grower or drug dealer and worried the case will hurt his job prospects.

“I am really upset that this man tried to blame all of his criminal activities on me and really upset you published my name,” he wrote. “Luckily it didn’t work and the [jury] saw through it, but still my name is in the paper making me look like a criminal.”

Apologies for the collateral damage, Herb.

Greg Nesteroff is a reporter at the Nelson Star. He can be reached at reporter2(at)nelsonstar.com

 

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