9,700-hectare land purchase protects future drinking water supply for CRD residents, and adds to regional park system

    VICTORIA, Aug. 8 /CNW/ - The Capital Regional District (CRD) is
purchasing more than 9,700 hectares of land from TimberWest Forest Corp. to
protect the future of the region's drinking water supply and to substantially
add to the region's park system.
    The agreement involves two separate parcels of land. The land for the
water supply is located west of the existing Sooke water supply lands. At
8,791 hectares, the Leech River watershed nearly doubles the CRD's water
supply area. The second parcel, 932 hectares for new regional park land, is
located east of the Sooke Potholes Regional Park and is being purchased with
support from The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC).
    "This is one of the largest, most important land acquisitions in recent
BC history. The addition of the Leech River watershed, which can be connected
to the CRD's water supply reservoirs, is a prudent strategic acquisition that
secures and protects our future water source," said Nils Jensen, Chair of the
CRD Regional Water Supply Commission. "While the Sooke Reservoir is expected
to meet regional water needs for at least the next 15 years, we have taken
action that provides a legacy for the future."
    "TimberWest is delighted that our former properties in the Leech River
watershed will help preserve the quality of life in the capital region," said
Paul McElligott, President and CEO, TimberWest Forest Corp. "This land
transaction is another example of our company's commitment to work with our
neighbours in a socially responsible manner."
    "The new park land is a significant addition to the 7,400 hectares
already dedicated to the Sea-to-Sea Green Blue Belt, southern Vancouver
Island's ecological highway of protected, park wilderness connecting Sooke
Basin to Saanich Inlet," said John Ranns, Vice Chair of CRD Parks Committee.
"I would like to thank The Land Conservancy of British Columbia for their
financial contribution to this project and its ongoing commitment to help
achieve the vision for the regional park system in the capital region."
    "We are pleased to have played a role in adding to the Sea-to-Sea Green
Blue Belt," said Bill Turner, Executive Director of The Land Conservancy of
British Columbia. "Helping secure this land is a source of great pride for all
of us involved with TLC and builds on our past financial contributions to the
purchase of Sooke Potholes and land in the Sooke Hills for regional parks."
    With this purchase the CRD will manage nearly 20,000 hectares of land
dedicated to the protection of the region's water supply. The purchase also
allows the CRD to avoid substantial future capital costs of more than
$150 million associated with the construction and operation of a new water
treatment facility.
    The purchase of the land for regional parks will increase the total
regional park area to nearly 11,400 hectares. This accounts for approximately
50 per cent of all the protected lands in the capital region.
    The transaction is valued at $64.7 million, of which $58.9 million is for
the Leech River watershed. It will be funded through an increase in the
wholesale water rate that will cost the average household about $23 per year.
The purchase price for the second parcel dedicated for park use is
$5.8 million, financed by the CRD's land acquisition fund and a $500,000
contribution from TLC.
    The CRD will borrow funds to complete the deal and it will therefore be
subject to the assent of the electorate. The deal is expected to close before
the end of year.

    TimberWest Corporate Profile

    TimberWest Forest Corp. is uniquely positioned as the largest owner of
private forest lands in western Canada. The Company owns in fee simple
approximately 334,000 hectares or 825,000 acres of private timberland that,
over the previous five years, have provided an annual average harvest of
2.594 million m3 of logs and have an approximate annual growth rate of 8.0 m3
per hectare per year on the productive land base. These timberlands are
located on Vancouver Island and the majority of the land base supports the
growth of Douglas fir, a premium tree species sought after for structural
purposes. TimberWest runs fully-contracted harvesting operations. With almost
80% of the Company's annual private land logging now being done in
second-growth stands, TimberWest leads the Coastal industry in the growing and
harvesting of second-growth timber.
    The Company's independent auditor, KPMG Performance Registrar Inc.,
periodically certifies that the forest management practices on the Company's
private timberland continue to meet all Sustainable Forestry Initiative
(SFI(R)) requirements. SFI requirements specify that forest harvesting is
integrated with environmental and conservation goals for soil, wildlife, water
quality protection, conservation of biodiversity, protection of special sites
and aesthetics in a manner that ensures a sustainable harvest over the
    TimberWest also owns renewable Crown harvest rights to 0.7 million m3 of
logs per year and operates a sawmill located near Campbell River, BC.
    In addition, approximately 38,000 hectares or 94,000 acres of the
Company's private forest lands have been identified as having greater value as
real estate properties and will progressively be made available for higher
uses over the next ten to fifteen years. The Company reviews its land base on
a periodic basis to update the size of its portfolio of higher use properties.
    Stapled Units of TimberWest Forest Corp. are traded on the Toronto Stock
Exchange under the symbol: TWF.UN
    Visit us at our web site: www.timberwest.com

    %SEDAR: 00009326E

For further information:

For further information: CRD contact: Nils Jensen, Chair, CRD Regional
Water Supply Commission, (250) 881-3574; John Ranns, Vice Chair, CRD Parks
Committee, (250) 478-3446; TimberWest contact: Steve Lorimer, Manager, Public
Affairs & Government Relations, (250) 729-3727, lorimers@timberwest.com; The
Land Conservancy of British Columbia contact: Bill Turner, Executive Director,
The Land Conservancy BC's "National Trust", (250) 213-1090

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