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ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON TIMBER AND FORESTRY. INTERIM REPORT. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1910

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 10 Ed. 7 Timber and Forestry Commission. H 13
ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
-ON-
TIMBER   AND   FORESTRY.
INTERIM REPORT.
To His Honour Thomas Wilson Paterson,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it Please Your Honour:
We, your Commissioners appointed on the ninth day of July, 1909, for the purpose of
making inquiry into all matters connected with the timber resources of the Province of British
Columbia and to report the facts found by us and the means that should be adopted to
conserve the present supply of timber, to guard against fire and to utilise vacant lands suitable
for afforestation, have the honour to submit the following interim report:—
The Commission commenced its work on the 16th day of August, 1909, holding its first
session at Victoria, and from that time until the 30th day of September, sittings were held in
different parts of the Province, some ninety witnesses being heard, besides receiving memorials
and hearing deputations from various parties and municipalities interested. In addition, the
Commission attended the National Congress on Conservation of Natural Resources, held at
Seattle on the 26th, 27th and 28th August.
The questions to be investigated by the Commission are many and of the utmost
importance; so important, in fact, that while the Commission has already obtained a vast
amount of evidence, covering considerably over one thousend typewritten pages, it feels that
it should continue its investigations still further and exhaust all possible sources of information before venturing to submit a final report.
At the outset, however, the attention of the Commission was called to the fact that at
the last session of the Legislature the Government announced that it had come to the determination that the tenure of the special timber licences would, at the next session of the
Legislature, receive the attention of the administration in the way of some provision that
would make for the perpetuity of the licence until the timber is removed, but on such terms
and conditions as the Government then may deem prudent in the best interests of the
Province and people of British Columbia, and, in consequence, the Honourable the Premier
has requested us, if possible, to make an interim report dealing with this question  of tenure.
In compliance with this request, we have given careful consideration to this question,
and in order to implement the decision of the Government we beg to submit the following :—
A majority of the witnesses who appeared before us strongly advocated that the licences
be made renewable in perpetuity, or at least for so long as there should be merchantable
timber on the lands covered by such licences. A great many of the witnesses also strongly
urged that the rentals or annual licence fees charged for such renewals should be fixed
unalterably at not more than the present rates, though, with a few exceptions, they thought
that the Government should retain control of the royalties to be charged.
A careful consideration of the facts adduced in the evidence submitted, and of the
opinions of some of the best known authorities on timber and forestry matters, have led us to
the unanimous conclusion that the proposed extension of tenure of these licences, under proper
safeguards, will not work to the disadvantage of the Province. H 14 Timber and Forestry Commission. 1910
While, as intimated above, we are not yet prepared to formulate in detail what these
safeguards should be, yet, having due regard to the best interests of the Province, and giving
due consideration to the difficult and fluctuating conditions surrounding the timber industry
and the necessity of protecting and encouraging the already large investments involved in the
same, so as to aid and assist, in every legitimate way, the development, conservation and
perpetuation of this great provincial asset, we suggest that the existing rates, terms and
conditions for the present, and pending our final report, be left undisturbed, and in particular
we emphatically nrgp,_that the Govern m en tdo_not in any way restrict or limit its right and
poweTtb amend or adjust from time to time therentals or licence fees and the royalties to be
rcharged, as well as the conditionsr regulations and restrictions under which tjmj£er inaylcWcut.
We, therefore, recommend that the proposed amendment be so framed as to provide that
the special timber licences, other than those provided for in sub-section (2) of section 57
of the Land Act, shall be renewable from year to year, so long as there is on the land included
in such licence merchantable timber in sufficient quantity to make it commercially valuable
(proof of which might be required by the Chief Commissioner), but that such renewal shall be
subject to the payment of such rental or licence fee, and such tax or royalty, and to such
terms, conditions, regulations and restrictions as may be fixed or imposed by any Statute or
Order-in-Council in force at the time renewal is made ; that power should be provided or
reserved for the Chief Commissioner or Government where, after inspection, it is found the
land is fit for tillage and settlement, and required for that purpose, that he or they may require
the licensee to remove the timber from such land within a fixed reasonable time, at the end of
which period the land shall be opened for settlement upon such terms as the Government shall
see fit.
Also, that if any holder of a licence, provided for in sub-section (2) of said section 57,
desires to take advantage of the privilege of renewal provided for in this amendment, he shall,
within six months after the passing of such amendment, surrender the licence held by him
and the privileges now appertaining thereto.
Your Commissioners are carefully investigating the constitution of Forestry Departments
in other Governments and countries, with the object of recommending the establishing of such
a Department in British Columbia, and, pending the securing of the fullest data, we are of
the opinion that the Government will be well advised to provide in the next Estimates an
increased amount (at least double that of 1909), for the purpose of supplementing the system
of forest fire protection already inaugurated, which, so far as the limited amounts appropriated
in previous years would permit, has been shown by the evidence to be most effective in
reducing the number and extent of fires.
We might add, in conclusion, that in our opinion a carefully thought-out policy as to the
best method of dealing with the present unalienated timber lands of the Province should be
decided upon before the same are dealt with; as it is our intention to consider this question
carefully and submit a recommendation in our final report, we would respectfully suggest that
the present reserve be in the meantime continued.
.AH of which is respectfully submitted.
We have the honour to be
Your Honour's obedient servants,
Fred'k.  J. Pulton,
Chairman.
A. C. Elumerpelt,
Commissioner.
A. S. Goodeve,
Commissioner.
VICTORIA, B. C.
Printed by Richard Wolfknden, I.S.O., V.D., Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
1910.

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