Once again, Provincial Forest Policy has led to confrontation in the woods above our community. If you are new to Roberts Creek, you should know that you have come to a place that has a history of discourse, determination, and sometimes direct action when it comes to forestry issues.
Our Roberts Creek Official Community Plan identifies “Cutblock A87125” as part of a 1500 hectare zone for protection of its ecological and recreational values. It might be considered a “green belt” for the Creek. It was on this basis that the Regional District Board this spring passed a motion of opposition to logging within the area, and contacted Ministry of Forests and BC Timber Sales staff to request a deferral of the contract awarding of the block. The previous Board worked hard to establish a communications protocol with BCTS.
Unfortunately, the legislative framework that we operate under places 5-year Harvest Plans above Community Plans. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) is the organization that allows Municipalities and Regional Districts to petition the Provincial Government with one voice. A quick scan reveals 14 UBCM Resolutions with regards to local input into forestry over the last 5 years, and several more on the floor at this year’s upcoming convention in Victoria. The response of the current provincial government to those resolutions had been disappointing, to say the least, and can be accessed by following the link above.
This is not a case of environment vs economy. When the BC Chamber of Commerce passes Motions in favour of protecting old growth forest for the economic benefit of communities, while reinforcing the importance of the forest industry to those same communities then the issue is more complex than that. There is no doubt that local business owners and others in this industry would benefit from a business model that involves more certainty and fewer injunctions. Social license through community consultation can form part of that model.
A recent UBCM Economic Development Committee survey of local governments indicated that 85% of local government respondents experienced inadequate community consultation on forestry decisions. The Report that accompanies the survey can be found here , makes for excellent reading, and will form the basis for a pre-UBCM conference workshop that I’ll be attending later this month in Victoria.
The SCRD Board is committed to local input on local resource issues. First Nations are fundamental participants in land use decisions, and one of the Board’s strategic goals involves establishing a protocol agreement with the Skwxwu7mesh Nation on whose traditional territory A87125, and indeed half of what we call Roberts Creek, sits.
As SCRD Director, it is my role is to advance the initiatives above in the interest of the community, and to advocate for change in the legislation that currently sets us up for conflict. In the meantime, may peace prevail on the mountain, whether it is your workplace, your play place, your heart place, or your habitat.