Houston questions Crown wood application process

John Brannen
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HALIFAX – Pictou East MLA Tim Houston voiced his concerns in the legislature this past week regarding access to Crown wood for a hardwood processing company in his riding. 

Houston rose to ask if Minister of Natural Resources Zach Churchill had worked with New Brunswick-based Group Savoie in Westville to allocate Crown wood for their operation.

“The forestry industry is one of Nova Scotia’s oldest industries, and it is in need of bold change in order to secure the long-term sustainability of companies like the Group Savoie,” Houston said. “The issue of accessing affordable hardwood for the Group Savoie mill in Westville has been frustrating.”

Churchill noted that while he had been in talks with Group Savoie, sawmills across the province are being negatively affected.

“As I’ve stated in this House before, there is currently a shortage of fibre in the Province of Nova Scotia,” he said. “Because of the current moment in the cycle of the growth of our forests, we are faced with a fibre challenge right now.”

Churchill noted that he would continue to work with Group Savoie on this issue and hopefully find a resolution for the company. Houston, however, noted that questions remain around the process to obtain access to Crown land.

“I have been asking people what the process is, and I can’t find anyone who can tell me the actual process for applying for access to Crown land, and that’s a big concern of mine,” noted Houston.

The minister, without explaining the details of application process, noted that it’s through the sawmills’ direct access to staff in the department that an application occurs.

“To date, we’ve been able – on the western Crown land – to ensure that everyone who has sent an application in did receive an allotment,” said Churchill. “I have met directly, personally, with almost the majority of the sawmillers across this province and not one of those people has ever indicated to me that there is a problem when it comes to the application process to access Crown fibre.”

Organizations: Group Savoie

Geographic location: Westville, Nova Scotia, Houston

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