Foresters, politicians and logging protestors gathered on May 8 at the Botanical Garden in Sechelt for the Annual General Meeting of the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF), chaired by President Glen Bonderud.
Created in 2006, the Community Forest is entering its 11th year of operation. The District of Sechelt is the sole shareholder in the corporation, which has logging rights for 10,790 hectares of forest near Sechelt.
Dave Lasser, operations manager, reported that in 2016, SCCF was only able to log about 40 per cent of its annual cut, due to delays in gaining permission to salvage timber from the 2015 Mine Site forest fire site. Total 2016 harvest was 7,107 m3 of timber, of which two per cent was sold to local independent mills, seven per cent to Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, 74 per cent to other Canadian buyers, and 17 per cent was exported outside Canada.
During 2016 SCCF paid $225,890 in dividends to the District of Sechelt, and $70,000 in grants were awarded to community organizations through the SCCF Legacy Fund.
Members of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) were on hand to ask questions and distribute handouts detailing their longstanding concerns about the Community Forest. Since SCCF board meetings are held in private and its community advisory committee was dissolved, the public AGM has become an annual focus for dissent.
ELF wants a moratorium on any further logging in the drinking watersheds as well as on southern slopes of Mount Elphinstone, in an area that has been designated for “ecological and recreational protection” in the Roberts Creek Official Community Plan. Last summer, protestors were arrested for blockading logging of a BC Timber Sales cutblock there.
Area D SCRD Director Mark Lebbell, attending the AGM, expressed his concern about SCCF’s lack of consultation with community stakeholders. Although SCCF is owned by the District of Sechelt, most of its tenure is located in two SCRD rural areas, B (Halfmoon Bay) and D (Roberts Creek). Since the SCRD is not a shareholder in the company, it does not have to be consulted about logging plans.
Lebell said he wrote to the SCCF Chair in November, but did not receive a reply.
“I would encourage the Community Forest to put some of the resources I saw in the fiscal presentation towards enhanced communications and public engagement regarding upcoming cut blocks under consideration in Roberts Creek’s OCP Area,” said Lebbell.
During 2016 SCCF also commissioned a study on wild edible and medicinal mushrooms which was delivered in February 2017 and is available on their website. The report recommends establishment of an “agroforestry cultivation forest” in Roberts Creek where edible and medicinal plants and fungi can be grown and