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BC Forest Discovery Centre reviews exhibits amidst debate on balance

The BC Forest Discovery Centre is conducting a review of its operations in response to concerns that the Forests Forever exhibit — funded by forest companies — offers a one-sided view of forestry in the province.

The Centre, which receives a $25,000 North Cowichan grant annually, also lacks a display on First Nations’ traditional use of the forests.

Councillor Tek Manhas told council on Tuesday that the Centre’s president, Alf Carter, as well as board members Tom Walker and Steve Lorimer “have gone through the exhibits” and will present a report to the board’s January meeting.

Walker is former North Cowichan mayor and Lorimer is former president of the Centre; both have forestry backgrounds. Carter is a retired pulp-and-paper executive.

During the council meeting, Councillor Kate Marsh said: “There are a number of people who feel that there should be exhibits that show how forests were managed pre-contact and how best practices are now doing.”

Mayor Al Siebring sought clarification from Manhas, saying: “Is the board at the discovery centre alive to this and are they looking at maybe expanding or putting in some exhibits to address some of these questions…is that, sort of, part of the discussion?”

Said Manhas: “They are alive to it. That’s why they formed a committee…They’re cognizant of this.”

Marsh suggested that council might consider taking $5,000 from a reserve fund to help the Centre develop exhibits that cover such issues.

Siebring also said there might be “a little bit of money available from council to help” the Centre expand its exhibits to address concerns.

Manhas said “that’s a great idea,” but suggested council first await the results of the review, noting the Centre is good at fund-raising.

“I will report back as a liaison to council.”

The Centre’s official mandate includes “educating the public about life, work and the environment in forest communities of coastal British Columbia.”

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— Larry Pynn, Jan. 12, 2022.


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