Logging in the Community Watershed

Once again, there is significant timber harvesting taking place in the community’s Chapman Watershed, just upstream of our water intake. While there are a number of different land designations in the valley, including Provincial Park, Community Forest, and “Crown” Lands, it is Private Managed Forest Land tenure that raises the most concern with regards to regulatory oversight.

The Private Managed Forest Act that governs logging on private lands contains “Management Objectives” rather than standards, and the Objective with regards to water quality is “to protect human drinking water both during and after harvest”.  However, even when “industry standards for protecting water quality have not been met” as outlined here in this 2015 report to the Managed Forest Council (the regulating body) it is not considered to be a contravention of the regulations. http://mfcouncil.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Chapman-Creek-Assessment_web.pdf

In order for any legislative oversight to be enacted, SCRD staff must prove a deleterious effect on the water at the treatment plant as a result of the logging in question. Clearly, at this point the horse is out of the barn, and standing in your creek.

I have had recent discussions with our MLA about the need to strengthen this act. The Union of BC Municipalities had brought forward numerous resolutions on the topic, including another one this year.

PMFL Chapman Water Intake Image

With regards to the suggestion to purchase the land, such negotiations between Local Governments and private land owners take place “In Camera” (confidentially). There are a number of reasons for this section of the Local Government Act, not the least of which is the potential impact on the selling price, and the fiscal interests of the taxpayer.

In 2016, the landowner initiated a process to halt SCRD Staff access to the Water Treatment Plant’s intake pipe, which for legacy reasons sits on private property. This would have prevented Water Staff from maintaining this essential piece of infrastructure, and from testing the water quality at the pipe’s intake. To ensure the community’s access to its historical water supply, the SCRD Board initiated a successful legal process to expropriate land for an access corridor, a process that requires compensation to the landowner.

More on the topic of Watershed Governance and Land Use issues about 2/3rds of the way down this page.

SCRD Staff continue to closely monitor water quality and are in communication with Vancouver Coastal Health Staff.