Message from the Minister
and Accountability Statement

Photograph -- Honourable Rich Coleman.Over the next year, the Ministry of Forests and Range will continue to improve the management of the province's forest and range resources. New agreements with First Nations, new safety initiatives for forestry workers, an improved regulatory framework and other initiatives will ensure British Columbians continue to see the highest economic, environmental and social benefits from their forests.

We continue to lead government's efforts in addressing the environmental and economic impacts of the mountain pine beetle. The most recent Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan contains 59 immediate actions, as well as 13 longer term actions. The Chief Forester's Office will start implementing recommendations from the Future Forests Ecosystem Initiative to adjust forestry legislation, policy and practices in response to rapidly changing forest conditions, including those brought about by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

Since September 2002, we've signed forestry agreements with over 110 First Nations, and by March 2008, offers to negotiate will be extended to all 176 First Nations that are eligible for Forest and Range Opportunity Agreements. The Ministry of Forests and Range will continue to play a key role in supporting treaty negotiations and fostering a new relationship with First Nations.

The Forest and Range Practices Act comes into full effect this year, completing our commitment to a results-based approach to forest management that maintains high environmental standards. By investing $12 million over three years in a science-based evaluation program, we are improving our ability to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of forest practices, and support their continuous improvement.

International competitiveness is increasing in the global forest industry. With 80 per cent of B.C.'s forest products being sold in non-Canadian markets, it is essential that we adjust our business practices to remain competitive. We continue to work with industry to meet the challenge. We are enabling B.C. to take advantage of emerging international markets for timber products through the British Columbia Asia Pacific Initiative, a coordinated strategy to maximize the benefits of B.C.'s geographic proximity to Asian markets and the province's rich Asian cultural influence and relationships. This plan includes the Forestry Innovation Investment's Dream Home Canada/China marketing program.

As Minister Responsible for Housing I am proud of the steps we have taken to help B.C.'s most vulnerable citizens access safe, affordable housing.

Addressing homelessness is one of our highest priorities.

We will introduce or expand a number of key programs as we implement Housing Matters BC, our Provincial Housing Strategy to support people with a range of housing needs. We anticipate that our Rental Assistance Program will help an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 low-income, working families with their housing needs.

To help more homeless people find permanent shelter and income assistance, we are building on a successful pilot program of outreach workers, partnering with non-profit organizations. We are also increasing the amount of transitional housing, allowing shelter users to move into more permanent housing and freeing shelter spaces for those in need.

We will also continue to update regulations around planning and building, making the rules consistent throughout the province and ensuring a continued high standard from B.C.'s construction industry. The modernization strategy will improve the safety of buildings with consistent approaches for the design, construction and occupancy of buildings.

The Residential Tenancy Branch continues to implement changes to provide a broader range of dispute resolution services to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes without formal adjudication proceedings. As well, administration is improving to ensure quicker responses to telephone, fax, e-mail and in-person requests for information and services.

The Ministry of Forests and Range 2007/08 – 2009/10 Service Plan was prepared under my direction in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act.I am accountable for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of February 12, 2007 have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.

Honourable Rich Coleman
Minister of Forests and Range
and Minister Responsible for Housing

February 12, 2007

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