A u shaped table surrounded by empty chairs

SRD protests BC’s ‘reactive’ and ‘emotionally driven’ forestry policies

How our local government works

The Strathcona Regional District Board is writing Premier Horgan, to protest the government’s new ‘reactive,’ and ‘emotionally driven’ forestry policies. 

This letter appears to have largely been composed by Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield, with some additions by SRD Chair Brad Unger. 

If the authors had stuck to the idea that local government should be involved in the process, or taken a less confrontational approach, their letter would have received more support. 

Instead, the decision to send it carried by a 7 to 6 vote.

Photo credit: cropped image taken from YouTube Video of meetings showing (top to bottom) Director Leigh; Mayor Davis ; Director Anderson’s screen with ‘hand’ raised.

(Click on this link to access YouTube video of meeting)

Most of the directors appear to have agreed that local government should be involved in the process. 

The letter states:

“Your press releases and publications refer to partnership with First Nations, but there is no mention of working with local governments. You plan on providing $12.69 in capacity funding, but there is no mention of capacity funding for local governments. How can you support workers and communities when there has been virtually no engagement or involvement with local governments? You have provided opportunities for us to speak, but we feel you have not listened.”

Campbell River Director Claire Moglove agreed with Cornfield’s complaints about the provincial government’s: 

  • lack of consultation engagement with local government. 
  • lack of substantive assessment of local economic impact, 
  • lack of substantive, assessment of social impact to communities and an identified provincial support for offsetting job losses and economic impacts.

She added that the key was consulting industry: “representatives of industry want to be part of the solution and to be completely left out of this process is totally and utterly unacceptable.” 

There was also widespread support for using the recent ‘Broughton Salmon Aquaculture’ process, in which all stakeholders were brought to the table for “inclusive and meaningful dialogue,” as a model to follow. 

However the letter’s first paragraph states:

“Old growth deferrals and changes planned to Forest Management prioritize ecosystem health over the health and welfare of BC people, their families and their businesses. Ecosystem based Management is at this time, a largely unproven management strategy. The environment, the economy and social programs are inextricably connected. A healthy environment and robust programs require a vibrant economy. You cannot have one without the other. Everyone benefits when all interests are brought to the table.”

Moglove said her concern was that first paragraph, which goes further than what Cornfield stated at their recent municipal services committee meeting. She intended to support the letter anyway, then joined those voting in opposition. 

Cortes Island Regional Director Noba Anderson said she “didn’t disagree entirely with lack of consultation,” but: 

“Speaking to the first paragraph: the health of the people of British Columbia is inextricably linked to the health of our ecosystems and our forests. I would like to be writing a letter that really commends the decisions that have been made, but I know this board will never write that. So the best I can do here is to just speak in opposition to sending this letter at this time.”

Regional Director Jim Abram, of Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets, also objected to that first paragraph: 

“Ecosystem based management was based on trying to keep ecosystems working. And if we’re going to have a healthy forestry industry, we need to have a very healthy environment.  I don’t believe that sending this letter is going to do that. So I cannot support sending this letter the way it is now.”

Though Mayor Julie Colborne of Zebellos could not support the letter brought before them, she would “support a letter similar to it that maybe doesn’t take as much of  a wide view and really sticks to just the points that were in the report about the lack of consultation with government and economic impact, social impact.” 

As she explained her reasons for not signing on to the letter, Regional Director Brenda Leigh, of Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake, pointed that forestry companies were still logging old growth. 

“I think we need to get some more information about what are the next steps for  communities to be consulted after the First Nations. Then what was the response from the First Nations to the referral?” she added.

Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis was among those that gave input to the “North Island Timber Supply Area Timber Supply Review” and made a written submission to the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel

“I’ve spoken with both ministers, Donaldson, and Conroy regarding the issues around,  old growth and how rapidly it’s disappearing and how we need to move more towards a better usage,” said Davis. “Myself having worked in the forest industry for 40 years,  I’ve seen phenomenal amounts of waste. We can get a lot more value out of the wood when we don’t stack up large amounts of it and burn it, which I’ve actively worked with myself.  I just find a lot of the content of this letter disingenuous and I can’t support it.”

Only two of the seven SRD directors that voted to send the letter explained their rationale.

Campbell River Director Colleen Evans urged the province to hit the reset button.  

“I think there’s an opportunity here to be more clear in what we are asking. So if there was a way to identify who we feel needs to be sitting around that table I think it’s important to clarify that greater. So for me, the letter is just more about clarification of what our intent is and what action we are asking the premier to take.”  

To which regional director, Gerald Whalley of Kyuquot/Nootka-Sayward added.

“I was a manager of silviculture for 30 years, and I just want to point out perhaps some directors feel our old growth is irreplaceable. In the Campbell River area, we have lots of stands of OGMA, which stands for old growth management areas. Much of that old growth there is only 60 years of age.  Old growth is totally replaceable. All of these new standards that we plant very quickly become old growth.  It’s just a renewable resource that is the whole basis of our ecosystem.” 

The other directors that voted in favour of the letter were: 

  • Mayor Andy Adams of Campbell River
  • Director Charlie Cornfield of Campbell River (lead author)
  • Director Ron Kerr of Campbell River
  • Chair Brad Unger of Gold River  
  • Mayor Martin Baker of Sayward

Top photo credit: screenshot of empty boardroom – Courtesy of SRD Youtube

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