By Roy L Hales
This isn’t the first time that there has been disputes over logging in the Chapman Creek Watershed. In response to complaints from the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), in 2014 the ‘Managed Forest Council hired Madrone Environmental Services to ascertain the cause of “increased turbidity” in the water supply (which services up to 30,000 households). Geoscientist Gordon Butt pointed to logging after the “onset of the fall rains” and concluded, “Although there has been no clear contravention of the regulations, it is clear to me that industry standards for protecting water quality have not been met in CH1. The short-comings are substantially more serious given the fact that this logging has been carried out in a highly sensitive watershed supplying a large population.” [1. Madrone Environmental Services report of Jan 9, 2015, pp 1 & 7] When AJB Investments resumed logging operations in late January of this year, Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) responded with a blockade. The latest attempt at negotiation has just broken down and the month long siege of Chapman Creek continues.
Logging Operations In 2016
Sure span of North Vancouver, BC, a parent company of AJB Investments, attempted to resume logging operations this year. An article in the Coast Reporter describes the sequence of events that followed:
“The protest was triggered by a revelation in a Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) staff report for the Feb. 11 infrastructure services committee meeting.
“The report said AJB notified the SCRD by email on Jan. 25 that it planned to start logging on the company’s private managed forest land. The work on cutblock DR7, on the east side of Chapman Creek above the Sechelt Airport, started on Feb. 2.
“The report went on to say, “Tree falling is in progress above the upper bench and road building is progressing in stages, as needed. Only roughly 60 metres of new road is in place, with no sedimentation control measures as of yet. Some sediment in run-off, but location is significant distance from Chapman Creek and downstream tributary is running clear.”
“ELF’s Hans Penner confronted SCRD directors during the public question period at the meeting.
“The regional district has sat quietly here while they [Surespan] went, knowingly this time, into the watershed to start logging,” Penner said during a testy exchange with committee chair Mark Lebbell, director for Area D. “I think the community has not been well served by the regional board. I think it’s shocking, considering everybody here knows what the history of the Chapman Creek watershed is…”
The Sechelt Indian Band
The Sechelt (“shishalh”) Nation is involved in the negotiations that followed. According to Ross Muirhead, of ELF, they have ” … a Chapman Watershed agreement with the SCRD clearly stating that they seek 100% control over the watershed, such as Metro Vancouver and Capital region (Victoria) has. The province (of British Columbia) rejects it.”
Surespan Rejects ELF’s Terms
Muirhead described the community’s concerns in a joint email to Surespan, the SCRD and Sechelt Nation, Why did the SCRD “give the green light” for Surespan “to log the end of Feb. when its clearly within the raining season period?” Sure span should not have “ignored the Madrone recommendations that better care of operations was necessary when conducting industrial activities within a highly sensitive public drinking watershed. We will bring this complaint forward to the Managed Forest Council.”
At the end of this email, Muirhead offered three terms under which “ELF will agree to lift the roadblock to allow timber hauling on the Sechelt-Airport FSR”:
- Term # 1: Surespan agrees to stop any further timber falling with the surveyed block under question.
- Term #2: Surespan agrees to set into place the highest sediment control measures available in cooperation with Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) Water Staff.
- Term #3: Over the coming weeks, Surespan agrees to engage in meaningful discussions with the SCRD on a protocol agreement, including options that would allow future control of these lands by the SCRD.
Mark Rogers, Vice President of Surespan, responded, “We do not agree with your position or your terms.”
The month long siege of the Chapman Creek Community Drinking Watershed continues.