In 1931, 415 hectares (1028 acres) of land was gifted to the Province of British Columbia by the Elk River Timber Company. Given in trust; the land was to be used in experimental work in reforestation and forest management. In recognition of the binding obligation of the gift for forestry purposes, Bill 52,
Beaver Lodge Forest Trust Renewal Act (1993)
was passed, making the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands (BLFL) the first B.C.
experimental forest protected under its own Provincial legislation.
The Beaver Lodge Forest Lands issue was the center of much public
controversy in Campbell River in 1992 and 1993. The Municipality of
Campbell River believed it had the right to develop the Crown lands as
facilitated by government agencies. However, many citizens believed
these lands were gifted to the Province for forestry purposes and that a
trust was formed and should be honoured. The issue was brought to
the provincial government's attention. On May 7, 1993, Environment,
Lands and Parks' Minister, John Cashore and Comox Valley MLA,
Margaret Lord, announced in Campbell River that the Province would
act to resolve the Beaver Lodge Lands' issue.
They announced that the Province was committed to negotiate a land
exchange to restore and expand the size of the Beaver Lodge Lands
trust in Campbell River to 502 hectares. Legislation would be
introduced to accomplish this and to provide for limited development in
an area proposed to be excluded from the trust lands (77 hectares).
"This decision recognizes the importance of the trust to local residents.
We have reviewed all legal, financial and environmental implications and
have acted to maintain community stability and a respect for the
environmental sensitivity of these lands. The new trust area will be
managed as the province's first experimental forest protected under
legislation. I strongly encourage the public to get involved in the
development of a local resource use plan for the Beaver Lodge Lands"
said Cashore. (1993 Provincial News Release)
The Beaver Lodge Lands were given to the province in 1931 for
experimental work in reforestation and forest management. Since then,
the land has been administered by the Ministry of Forests and has been
available for hiking and other recreational activities. As there was no
reference to the gift on the title for these lands, some of the property
was set aside by the province for the District of Campbell River's
expansion without knowledge of the gifting. The district had been
pursuing plans to develop community housing, a new high school, an
elementary school, commercial development and an expanded North
Island College within the lands.
In August 1992, a search of Ministry of Forests archival files revealed
the existence of the trust. The Ministry of the Attorney General reviewed
the issue and advised that a trust obligation was established and
North Island MLA, Colin Gabelmann, was present at the announcement
and confirmed that as Attorney General, he would continue to monitor the
resolution of the various issues and public interest concerning the
Beaver Lodge Lands.
The Legislation was passed at the Second Session, Thirty-fifth,
Parliament 42 Elizabeth II, 1993 in the Legislative Assembly of
British Columbia. The Legislation is titled Bill 52, Beaver Lodge Trust
Lands Renewal Act. (see Appendix II)