By: The Working Forest Staff
Port Alberni, British Columbia – Western Forest Products Inc. and Huumiis Ventures Limited Partnership, a limited partnership beneficially owned by Huu-ay-aht First Nations, have reached an agreement whereby Huumiis will acquire a majority ownership interest in TFL 44 Limited Partnership and an ownership interest in a newly formed limited partnership that will own the Alberni Pacific Division Sawmill for total consideration of $36.2 million. The key details of the Transaction are summarized below.
- TFL 44 Limited Partnership (“TFL 44 LP”)
- TFL 44 LP holds certain assets in Port Alberni, British Columbia, including Tree Farm Licence 44 (“TFL 44”) and other associated assets and liabilities
- Huumiis will acquire an incremental 44% ownership interest in TFL 44 LP from Western for $35.2 million
- On completion of the Transaction, Huumiis will own 51% of TFL 44 LP and Western will own 49% of TFL 44 LP
- Western may sell other area First Nations, including Huumiis, a further incremental ownership interest of up to 26% in TFL 44 LP, under certain conditions
- Western and TFL 44 LP will enter into a long-term fibre agreement to continue to supply Western’s British Columbia coastal manufacturing operations, which have undergone significant capital investment over the past several years
- Alberni Pacific Division Sawmill (“APD Sawmill”)
- Western will transfer its APD Sawmill into a newly formed limited partnership (“APD LP”) along with certain other assets and liabilities
- Huumiis will acquire a 7% ownership interest in APD LP from Western for $1 million, and subject to further negotiations, Huumiis will have an option to purchase an incremental ownership interest in APD LP, which may include a majority interest
- “This agreement is an example of how collaboration between First Nations and the private sector can contribute to reconciliation,” said Don Demens, Western’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Western is committed to the long-term success of this partnership, and we look forward to continuing to work towards our shared goal of revitalization of a forest sector that benefits everyone in the Alberni Region.”
“This is an important step to gain more control over the ?ahuu?i of the Huu-ay-aht ?aw?ii? (traditional territory of the Hereditary Chiefs),” explains Tayii ?aw?i? ?iišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “Our sacred principles of ?iisaak (utmost respect), ?uu?a?uk (taking care of), and hišuk ma c?awak (everything is one), will guide us as we create more opportunities and wealth for our Nation in a way that protects our resources for present and future generations.”
“This is an historic announcement that is fundamentally about reconciliation and forestry revitalization,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “This agreement will enable Huu-ay-aht to have more jurisdiction over our ?ahuu?i (traditional territory), strengthen the long-term sustainability of the forest sector in the Alberni Region, provide strong environmental stewardship that aligns with Huu-ay-aht’s forestry guiding principles, and create more opportunities for First Nations, including our citizens.”
The completion of the Transaction is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, financing, and certain third-party consents, including approval by the British Columbia Provincial Government and the Huu-ay-aht First Nations People’s Assembly. The Transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020.
The agreement builds on the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement between Huu-ay-aht and Western signed in March 2018 and the TFL 44 LP transaction completed in March 2019. It is a positive step towards the furtherance of Huu-ay-aht’s and Western’s framework for reconciliation and revitalization of the Alberni Region. The framework includes economic opportunities for increased participation of the other 13 area First Nations through increased engagement, tenure ownership, employment and business opportunities, sustained domestic manufacturing, increased training, effective marketing and value-added product innovation, and strong environmental stewardship – all in a manner consistent with the British Columbia Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.