2016 has been a tremendous year. The team at TimberWest has continued to work closely with long-time partners, and formed new relationships with educators, community groups and charity organizations across the Island. The passion our staff have for the work that they do, and the dedication they have for the communities and neighbours we interact with, is foundational to the good work we are able to accomplish.
We want to thank our partners, and our team for their continued commitment to demonstrating leadership on projects that will have a lasting impact across Vancouver Island. Reflecting on this past year we certainly have a lot to be proud of. There are many highlights that took place in various communities and although we can’t recount them all here, we certainly remember the effort and contribution of everyone.
Several years ago, we began our firewood permit program: for every permit that is bought, 50% of the proceeds are immediately given to the non-profit group helping to manage the permits. In the past, the remaining 50% would be re-invested by TimberWest into community projects like stream conservation or bridge building along trail networks.
This year we decided to do something different because the firewood permit sales exceeded expectations. We were given the opportunity to donate over $5,000.00 to six local Lake Cowichan Community groups.
Most recently, on Saturday December 10th, we donated $1,450 to the Lake Cowichan Fire Department ninth annual Toy Drive where the proceeds will help make Christmas memorable for countless families across the community.
In November, we were pleased to recognize and award a total of $4,000 to the Cowichan Lake Food Bank, Cowichan Lake Community Services, 1st Lake Cowichan Scouts, Cowichan Lake Community Garden, and Palsson School during our Day of Giving. Each of the groups recognized, have provided a tremendous service to a wide range of people across Lake Cowichan.
The giving would not have been possible if it were not for the hardwork of our staff and contractors who made the firewood permit sales so successful this year. We want to thank our Contractors Jayne and Bruce Ingram for their continued support of TimberWest, and their dedication to the community of Lake Cowichan.
In October, TimberWest’s community spirit was in full effect as employees across our operations challenged themselves to meet our United Way giving goal of $25,000 to be matched by TimberWest. Incredibly, we surpassed our goal and with the 50% match from TimberWest we gave $65,000 to the United Way. The proceeds we gave will benefit the North Island, Centre Island and Vancouver Centre United Way charities; and will have an impact on over 5,000 individuals. Thank you team TimberWest for hosting excellent events that helped us surpass our goal!
We also value partnerships that help the public enjoy the great outdoors, and this year we were able to solidify two important partnerships. In February, we formally announced our partnership with the United Riders of Cumberland (UROC), the Village of Cumberland and Hancock Forestry where together we unveiled a network of safe-access mountain biking trails to be managed by UROC. The network has already been considered world-class by enthusiasts all over the world. And in November, we gifted the Trans Canada Trail with $100,000 to support the extension of the TTC from coast to coast while adding an additional 21 km of hiking and cycling trails on Vancouver Island. The trail will connect two historically significant and spectacular destination Trail sections: at one end, the Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo Regional Trails, and at the other end, the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, which wends its way from Langford to Victoria.
First Nations partnerships
First Nations culture is rooted in forest communities and we are grateful to work alongside many indigenous communities. This year we signed MOU’s with the K’ómoks First Nation and Cowichan Tribes First Nation to formalize our commitments of working collaboratively on stewardship projects and business opportunities.
We have also been very fortunate to support many local artisans with gifts of cedar logs that are used for exceptional projects related to truth and reconciliation, such as the Vancouver Island University donation and the Ladysmith Secondary School project that is bringing students and the community together to practice and honour First Nations traditions.
Early this year, we had the pleasure of celebrating our 15 year partnership with the The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF). The PSF does critical work to support Salmon Habitat through local stewardship projects. Over the course of our partnership, we have seen first-hand the good work the PSF undertakes to manage and monitor salmon populations, support local stream keepers to restore habitat, and educate the public about issues related to salmon stewardship. Our partnership is long lasting because of the impressive work the PSF does, and because our team is able to collaborate on projects of importance to communities across our land base.
The Marmot Recovery Foundation (MRF) is another conservation group we have worked closely with to help stabilize the population of Marmots on Vancouver Island. Our Biologists collaborate with the MRF to monitor and supplement marmot colonies as well as re-locate marmots if necessary. The MRF is at the forefront of research and restoration projects and their work is essential to the rehabilitation efforts of the species.
In early November, TimberWest and Ducks Unlimited Canada celebrated a momentous occasion for conservation on Vancouver Island with the announcement of TimberWest’s donation of the entire Somenos lake bed to Ducks Unlimited Canada. This donation will benefit over 200 species of birds and waterfowl that call the area home. We are grateful to Ducks Unlimited for their continued passion and dedication to conservation on the Island, and we are extremely honoured to deed Somenos lakebed to such a longstanding partner.
Public education programs are important and our partnerships with the City of Nanaimo, the Regional District of Nanaimo and Team Water Smart have helped educate hundreds of kids across the school district about the importance of our regional watersheds. The TimberWest team also takes forestry students from the Vancouver Island University and University of British Columbia on tours of our working forests, and engages students in real-life forestry scenarios and management challenges.
In September, we spoke with Leaders at the Strathcona Park Lodge about sustainable forest management to prepare them for the school year and the countless students in grades 6 to 12 who go to Strathcona Park Lodge to learn about environmental leadership. This exchange in opinions, ideas and science helps Leaders understand the forest cycle, and how to answer some difficult questions students might have about forestry on Vancouver Island. Strathcona Park Lodge is a world-leader when it comes to outdoor education, and they have the perfect surroundings to inform students about the mutual benefits that tourism and forestry play on Vancouver Island.
Overall the year was rich with generosity, creativity and partnership development. We look forward to 2017, and the important community projects that have a lasting impact on towns across Vancouver Island.