Spray Lake Sawmills has recently put together a draft of a “Dispute Resolution Process”.  Our intent is not to side-step the authority placed in the Alberta Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development as the ultimate manager and authority on land use activities which occur on Crown Land.  Rather we are trying to develop a “good faith” working arrangement between Spray Lake Sawmills and various stakeholders who also have an interest in what is going on within our Forest Management Agreement Area.  If you have any thoughts we would be happy to hear what you have to say.

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.