Public Involvement Process


Spray Lake Sawmills’ (SLS) forest operations occur along the foothills from west of Sundre to south of the Crowsnest Pass. Operations are conducted under a Forest Management Agreement in the north and Coniferous Timber Quotas in the south of our operating area.

The Foothills have a long-standing history of timber harvesting, oil and gas activity, ranching and recreation. Combined, these characteristics provide Spray Lake Sawmills with a high profile and a corresponding need for a meaningful public involvement process.

Communications Objective

SLS operates on Crown lands and people have the right to be involved in decisions affecting them. Interested and affected publics have local knowledge and expertise that can improve how our operations are conducted.

Communications with stakeholders are important to the smooth and efficient operation of the company. Providing ongoing information about the company’s plans and activities can increase stakeholder confidence and support.

Our promise to stakeholders is to keep them informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations and provide feedback on how public input influenced decisions. SLS’s public involvement policy is to carefully consider feedback and then respond to stakeholders by addressing their concerns. Changes to a plan or operation as a result of public input are recorded by SLS and communicated to the stakeholder. SLS’s record of public input to plans or operations is accessible to the public for viewing on request.

To achieve our objective, Spray Lake Sawmills maintains communication programs in each of the following areas:

  • Public Awareness (Public Education)
  • Response to Information Requests
  • Communications with Stakeholders & Government Agencies
  • Open Houses
  • Collaborative Planning Sessions
  • Resource Management Workshops

Various tools are used to keep the public informed and to promote input. Spray Lake Sawmills encourages anyone with an interest in our operations to contact us.

Collaborative Planning Sessions

After carefully considering the stakeholder comments from the June 11, 2013 Mixed Use Workshop , a 3 step, stakeholder collaborative harvest planning approach was initiated by the company in 2013.

Step 1: SLS facilitates interested parties to develop preliminary harvest designs on a forest compartment basis using GIS, the Detailed Forest Management Plan and the General Development Plan. This step provides stakeholders the opportunity to collaborate with SLS, prior to any field work or harvest plan submission to the government.

Step 2: If specific concerns are raised during step one, SLS will arrange a field tour with stakeholders to address specific concerns on the ground and make any needed mitigations etc. prior to any field work or harvest plan submission.

Step 3: SLS follows-up with participants showing how the collaborative planning work was used to develop draft final harvest plans. Stakeholders then have the opportunity to comment on the draft plans prior to harvest plan submission. SLS then follows up with stakeholders, posts the results from the session on the company website, writes the final harvest plan and submits it to the government.

Open Houses

Spray Lake Sawmills holds an annual open house during the first week of May, in both the Crowsnest Pass and Cochrane locations. The public is welcome to view the Woodlands General Development Plan, Five Year Access Plan, Final Harvest Plans and Annual Operating Plans. Participants are invited to provide input into the various stages of plan development. Knowledgeable staff is available to respond to comments or questions and record input.

As critical benchmarks are reached during planning processes, additional open houses may be held for stakeholders to review developments, ask questions and provide comments for further consideration.

Media Plan

Spray Lake Sawmills’ media plan includes the placement of information articles and advertisements in the local weekly newspapers. Topic areas include such things as health and safety, forest management practices and announcements. When Spray Lake Sawmills’ activities relate to other communities, articles are submitted to those local papers as well.

Company Website

Spray Lake Sawmills’ website contains information about the company’s background, mission and various departments’ operations. It also provides a method of contacting the company via email.

Public Advisory Committees

SLS first established a Public Advisory Committee (PAC) in 1995 to assist SLS in the development of a harvest plan for the McLean Creek Area. In 2001, SLS signed a Forest Management Agreement with the Province of Alberta. An integral component of the FMA is the Detailed Forest Management Plan (DFMP). A requirement of DFMP development was to have a meaningful public involvement process. SLS set-up a public advisory group in 2002 to help define DFMP objectives, guide and coordinate public involvement activities and critique plan development. This group’s mandate ended with the approval of the DFMP in 2007.

Based on these past successes, SLS has established two standing Public Advisory Committees. For the northern, FMA operations, a PAC was established with the mandate “to act as a review panel and sounding board for the company’s monitoring program, provide feedback on development of the company’s operating ground rules, and provide advice on on-going stakeholder communications”. In the south, SLS established the Crowsnest Pass PAC with the mandate “to act as a review panel and sounding board for the company’s operating plans within the C5 Forest Management Unit”.

PAC members represent a broad spectrum of interests including:

  • Environmental
  • Motorized and Non-motorized recreation
  • Ranching
  • Oil and Gas
  • Community members
  • Municipal Districts
  • Fish and Game
  • Alberta Government (Sustainable Resource Development)

To view the Terms of Reference, Committee membership and meeting notes for each of the PACs, please see side panel of this page.

Other Communication Tools

A variety of methods for accommodating public input have been evaluated and used by SLS over time. Communication tools need to be open, transparent and accessible. The key is to promote dialogue and appreciation for varying points of view. Participants in a public involvement process are not expected to be technical experts, but to provide insight on how a broad spectrum of societal values might be integrated with natural landscape developments.

Other communication tools considered include one on one meetings, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and newsletters. Spray Lake Sawmills have selected several of these public involvement tools in the past to garner a more complete scope of public opinion and will continue to use the entire tool box. Tools are selected for their ability to:

  • Be effective and meaningful for the participants
  • Be time efficient in meeting strategic planning benchmarks
  • Be cost effective

Dispute Resolution

Spray Lake Sawmills (1980) Ltd
Stakeholder Dispute Resolution Process

Spray Lake Sawmills operates under two different forms of tenure, a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) and a Coniferous Timber Quota (CTQ or quota). Both of these fall under provincial jurisdiction and are administered by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD). All of the company’s timber supply areas are located on Crown land.
Within the FMA, Spray Lake Sawmills has the right to manage the forest for the primary purpose of establishing, growing, harvesting and removing timber under the principles of sustainable forest management. The Minister reserves the right to manage the FMA landbase for other interests such as, hunting, fishing, recreation, fire control, wildlife, seasonal protection of roads, trapping, grazing and geophysical activities. (This is a brief paraphrasing of Section 8 of the FMA)
The province currently has defined dispute resolution processes in place to address issues between the forest industry and the grazing and trapping sectors. Disputes which may arise between Spray Lake Sawmills and other resource users or generalized stakeholders/members of the public have no defined process for resolution, although it is generally recognized that ESRD is the primary administrative body that will provide a ruling on landuse related issues.
It is Spray Lake Sawmills’ intent to work in an open, collaborative manner with our stakeholders. Our hope is to work together and directly with them to find resolutions to any disputes. Requesting a ruling from ESRD is regarded as the last stage in a dispute resolution process and should only occur after efforts to resolve a dispute have been exhausted between the affected parties.
Dispute resolution should generally follow the sequence as given:

1) Engage in an open, meaningful conversation at the field level. Explore such things as: values and management objectives, define the issue(s), review any pertinent conditions within the tenure or conditions of operating plan approvals, explore strategies or tactics for a mutually agreeable solution.
2) If no resolution/agreement can be found at the field level then both sides should prepare a brief position paper and submit it to the next higher management level within each of the respective organizations.
3) If there is still no resolution to the dispute then both written briefs will be submitted to ESRD as the lead provincial agency to provide a ruling. Depending on the issue, other provincial departments or agencies with governance authority may be asked to participate in the discussion.
Depending on the parties involved and the nature of the dispute this process may not always fit the situation. However it can still be used to help provide an outline of the “intent” of the process to be followed.

Public Consultation and Respect in the Workplace Policy

Spray Lake Sawmills has an established respect in the workplace policy that promotes an atmosphere of trust, teamwork, cooperation and respect. In the spirit of that policy, Spray Lakes Sawmills employees are required to discontinue consultation in the event of the public exhibiting threatening or abusive communication or behavior; making false accusations that serve to defame the company;  or otherwise demonstrate consultation with Spray Lake Sawmills is not in good faith.

If you have any interest, concerns or comments about our plans or operations please contact us at anytime by phone (403) 932-2234 or by email: woodlands@spraylakesawmills.com