Message from the Minister and
During 2005/06 the Ministry of Forests and Range made significant progress on its service plan goals for the province's forest and range resources.
Over the last year, forest worker safety has emerged as a number one priority. The ministry acted by hiring two dedicated safety officers in the ministry. The ministry also has two seats on the B.C. Forest Safety Council and is a strong supporter of the council's initiatives, including the requirement that companies be Safety Accord Forestry Enterprise (SAFE) certified by the Council by fall 2007.
Mitigating economic and environmental impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic remains one of our top priorities. Over the last year, I created a new mountain pine beetle response team to lead government's Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan and co ordinate action between agencies. The team is working to recover the greatest value from dead timber before it burns or decays to reduce damage in areas that are not yet infected and restoring the forest resources in those areas that are affected by the epidemic. In addition they are working cooperatively with communities on economic diversification planning and have solidified a partnership with First Nations in beetle-affected areas.
As part of moving ahead on the New Relationship with First Nations, by March 31, 2006, we signed agreements with over 100 First Nations providing access to over 15 million cubic metres of timber and more than $130 million in revenue sharing.
A new Range Branch was established within the ministry to support and promote a vigorous and world competitive livestock industry.
This spring we amended log grades in the Interior to more accurately reflect the quality of beetle-attacked wood and to facilitate the July 1st implementation of a new market-based timber pricing system.
As Minister Responsible for Housing, I am excited about the progress we have made since the creation of the Office of Housing and Construction Standards bringing together varied housing programs under one roof, allowing us to find new ways to provide affordable housing options and improved access to safe and stable housing for all British Columbians.
The Premier's Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions is advancing on its work to address affordable housing. Through a unique series of partnerships amongst three levels of governments, First Nations and the non-profit sector, the group is undertaking 12 housing developments in nine communities throughout the province. The working group was recognized this year by a Premier's Award in Innovation and Excellence in B.C. public service programs.
We are working to ensure housing options meet the diverse needs of British Columbians. Over the last year, we doubled the funding to SAFER, Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, providing financial assistance to nearly 13,000 seniors. Through the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, we have worked with communities hit hardest by homelessness to allocate 533 new units of transitional housing and committed funding for 450 additional units. We have also expanded our successful homeless outreach program, reaching out to the homeless at the grass roots level to help them find housing and support services.
This spring we amended legislation to provide consumer protection for tenants and landlords of supportive housing and assisted living facilities, providing them with a simple and inexpensive way to resolve disputes. Amendments to the Safety Standards Act help local authorities target and shut down marijuana grow operations more quickly and efficiently.
The 2005/06 Ministry of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Housing Annual Service Plan Report compares the actual results to the expected results identified in the ministry's 2005/06 – 2007/08 Service Plan Update. I am accountable for those results as reported.
Honourable Rich Coleman
Minister of Forests and Range
and Minister Responsible for Housing
June 30, 2006