The “Chanterelle Forest” in Roberts Creek is still slated to be logged by the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF), after the failure of last minute political talks with the province aimed at preserving the cutblock. Sechelt council held a special committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 6 to discuss the cut, which has been strongly opposed by Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF).
Dave Lasser, SCCF operations manager, gave a detailed presentation on the logging plans for cutblock EW28. He responded to specific issues raised by ELF by saying that Chanterelle mushrooms are “abundant and plentiful” on the Coast, and that the area is not a “critical winter range” for Roosevelt elk, nor are there any red-legged frogs in the block.
City of Powell River Councillor Russell Brewer, who is a registered professional forester who has worked with BC Timber Sales, explained what would happen if SCCF did not log the block. Because a cutting permit for the block has been issued, SCCF would have to pay stumpage to the province on the whole block, including any unharvested timber. And then the block would be cut anyway.
“If there was an undercut at the end of the five-year period… Sechelt Community Forest wouldn’t be able to carry that over. That would then be made available in all likelihood as a direct award to a First Nation. And secondly… it would be made available through a competitive process to anyone else who might want that volume,” said Brewer.
MLA Nicholas Simons was unable to attend the meeting when his flight was cancelled due to fog, so Mayor Bruce Milne spoke on his behalf at the end of the meeting.
“Nicholas Simons, our MLA, and others have done a lot of work in the last three or four weeks to take seriously the concerns raised by members of the community and by the media in editorials,” said Milne.
Milne reported that Simons met with both the ministry of the environment and the ministry of forests, lands and natural resources operations, but the ministries did not support the idea of deferring logging. “If it’s not logged in this cut, it will be put forward for others,” said Milne. “It’s considered by the minister [of forests] as part of the working forest and a delay would not really have the effect that we have in mind.”
Milne also reported on a three way call between himself, Simons and Chief Warren Paull of the Sechelt Nation where the shíshálh stated clearly their support for the cut.
“If in fact the community forest releases or somehow doesn’t move into some of those areas, the band is ready to and anxious to,” said Milne.
Milne concluded: “a number of people did give this a lot of consideration to try and see what the options were, and our MLA in particular worked overtime.”
However, Milne held out the cautious hope that a long overdue land use plan for the Sunshine Coast may be on the horizon, stating: “There’s a commitment from provincial government to put some planning processes in place.”
The Community Forest was incorporated in 2005. Its sole shareholder is the District of Sechelt.