VICTORIA - The B.C. government has backed off on a plan that critics said would have sold out public control over Crown forest land.
Forests Minister Steve Thomson says he's withdrawn proposed changes to the Forest Act that would have allowed volume-based forest licences to be converted to area-based forest licences, essentially giving private companies more power over government-owned land.
Thomson says it's become clear more public input is needed on the idea, so the government will conduct broad consultations this summer on the recommendations of a special committee that first proposed the change.
NDP forests critic Norm Macdonald says the bill would have allowed the minister to give corporations private property rights over vast areas of publicly-owned lands.
He says these changes were unacceptable to many people and he's pleased Thomson has withdrawn them.
Ken Wu of the environmental group Ancient Forest Alliance is also applauding the move, saying the legislation would have given away public lands to corporate control.