LETTER: Don’t buy (arguments on) Cottonwood

From reader Stephen Harris

Reader Stephen Harris says taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to buy land near Cottonwood Lake. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

I’m writing to strongly urge the City of Nelson and other levels of government to decline requests to use any taxpayer funds to purchase lands around Cottonwood Lake. Here’s why:

1. Look at the BC Assessment map of our region, and click on almost any of the polygons surrounding Nelson, and you’ll see that it they are described in the exact same manner as the ‘Cottonwood’ blocks: “Vacant (two or more acres),” or “Managed Forest (vacant).” The same arguments being made to save Cottonwood can be made for any of those other blocks.

2. If governments of various levels begin to put money into a purchase like the one being proposed at Cottonwood, what do you think the other landowners of similar blocks of land will do? It’s not a stretch to imagine that they will also publish a notice saying, “In the next six months, we’re going to clear cut our land (unless the taxpayers want to buy it for several million dollars).” There is no end in sight if we start down this path.

3. Much of the timber harvested will be processed into value-added products at local mills, keeping local people employed. Access to timber is a constant struggle for many smaller, value-added producers, and buying wood on the open market is required for them to keep operating.

3. Attempting to pressure local mills to not buy the timber won’t stop the harvest. The wood will simply be sold and processed elsewhere, likely the U.S., meaning that our region derives almost no benefit other than through the actual harvesting and roadbuilding.

4. A taxpayer-funded attempt to remove these lands from production has the net effect of taking away jobs from a large sector of the economy — most notably, family supporting, middle-class jobs.

5. Within 25 kilometres of Nelson, we have more than 143,000 acres of parkland. This doesn’t include protected areas (Darkwoods) or other areas of Crown land restricted from forestry. Is that not enough park right in our backyard?

6. If private individuals and companies want to spend their own money to buy Cottonwood, that’s their prerogative. Please keep my tax dollars out of it.

Stephen Harris

Nelson

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