In recent news, Mayor Murray Skeels has met with Alan Johnsrude, a representative of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) who does not have the purview for taking Bowen Island out of the loggable land base. After the meeting we asked for an outline of where this line of contact is at. We come away with the strong feeling that this particular contact is leading the way from ‘no logging’ to ‘some logging’. We thank Mayor Skeels for his email responses, reprinted below.
One way communities are lured into logging is through the ‘Community Forest’ framework. However, this leads to a situation where a community must set up a corporation to manage a logging operation, and is committed to an annual cut of a size determined off island. It can lead to community debt, as costs are fixed but income is not. It requires logging into the future.
We are asking Council to confirm that the direction of discussion is toward ‘no logging’ only.
Below is the mayor’s description of the meeting with Alan Johnsrude, FLNRO, and a letter in response from our group. Please let Mayor and Council know what you think today. We hope to appear in front of Council in the near future and would love your support for the goal.
MAYOR SKEELS: We had some information confirmed.
There are 4 or 5 “complex areas” in this region (south west BC), which for one reason or another aren’t considered likely candidates for logging. Bowen is one of them.
They acknowledge that the planning groundwork needed to support timber harvesting has never been done. Of particular interest is that no visual objectives have been established so there is no map showing which areas would be immediately removed from logging plans. The intimation was that this work hadn’t been done because Bowen wasn’t likely to be desirable to a licensee.
They asked about our OCP language (which specifically excludes commercial scale logging) and said it was an important statement of community objectives.
But they also said that many communities have resisted logging, often asking for a provincial park instead and that wasn’t a likely outcome. I spoke of the Mount Arrowhead exclusion. They intimated that it had something to do with First Nations negotiations and suggested it was very, very unlikely that the Minister would approve that approach for our situation.
They fully understand why we are so opposed to logging but made the point that a very minimal amount of selective logging within a community forest framework might satisfy the requirements of the Act while meeting our objectives. However the cost of preparing detailed planning could be a hurdle. In the end they agreed to go back to their office and see what they could come up with.
The above are simply recollections. I didn’t take detailed notes and may have misunderstood something but I think I got the just of it.
I’m expecting to hear back from them at the end of January and have agreed to discuss it further.
On a separate issue – BCTS has confirmed to us that they have no plans at the moment to pursue work on Bowen. They have said they will make themselves available to meet with us if we wish.
I hope this information is of value to the group.
DIF: thanks very much for letting us know their perspective. I’m wondering, if the case is the way they described it, why they tried so forcefully to include us in the last FSP. Did they give you any indication why that happened? What’s your strategy going forward?
MAYOR SKEELS: The people I was talking to had nothing to do with the BCTS proposal. For now my strategy is to wait for Allan (the guy I was talking to) to get back to me in January. I see this as a very long process.
As long as our intentions are clear and we proceed in good faith we will be well positioned to rise up in righteous indignation if any attempt is made to restart the FSP process. But I don’t see that happening.
Request for reaffirming the goal of no logging
Mayor and Council – Bowen Island Municipality – January 15, 2018
Dear Mayor Skeels and Council, Re: Strategy for preventing industrial logging on Bowen Island
As members of the steering committee of Defend Island Forests, we are deeply concerned that staff in the department of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO) have shifted the dialogue with Bowen Island Municipality away from the Municipality’s stated goal of preventing industrial logging, and into a discussion of the scale of potential logging.
We ask that Council immediately return to your original approach of:
- Opposing any industrial logging of Bowen’s Crown lands (per July 24 resolution),
- Requesting a meeting with the Minister of FLNRO (per July 24 resolution), and
- Requesting that the Minister utilize the mechanisms identified and available to prevent logging on Bowen, and meet with BIM representatives to discuss (per September 18th letter to the Minister, attached).
Defend Island Forests (DIF) was established last summer when BC Timber Sales (BCTS) representatives indicated their intention to begin a process to log Bowen’s Crown Lands. DIF endeavoured to act on behalf of the clear majority of Islanders who expressed their opposition through actions such as petitions, letters, and t-shirt sales, and to support the municipality’s efforts expressed in its July 24th resolution to, “oppose any industrial logging of Crown Lands on Bowen Island”.
In its review of the situation, DIF recognized that only the Minister of FLNRO has the authority to act to achieve Council’s objective. We therefore endeavoured to support Council’s letter requesting a meeting with the Minister by developing, for Council’s use in the meeting, a detailed backgrounder on all the points in the letter.
In its set of resolutions of July 24th, Council asked staff to organize a meeting with the Minister of FLNRO at UBCM. Unfortunately, the Minister sent Alan Johnsrude, the District Manager of the Chilliwack Forest District, in his place.
Subsequently, Mayor Skeels followed up with the District Manager, having met with him on December 18, 2017. We enquired with Mayor Skeels respecting his progress at the meeting and attach his response.
This approach to achieving Council’s goal of preventing industrial logging — discussing it with the Chilliwack District Manager — has failed. The dialogue at the meeting shifted from the “no logging position” of the Municipality to the “some logging position” of the Ministry of FLNRO. As Mayor Skeels says in his email, the issue is left for the Ministry of FLNRO to consider “a very minimal amount of selective logging within a community forest framework” and they will “go back to their office and see what they could come up with.” Moreover, Mayor Skeels stated that he is “expecting to hear back from them at the end of January and have agreed to discuss it further.”
Unfortunately, Bowen has been forced into a discussion which accepts as a premise that some industrial logging will take place on the island’s Crown Lands.
We believe that Council should return to its original approach of:
- Opposing any industrial logging of Bowen’s Crown lands, as per the July 24 resolution, and
- Meeting with the Minister of FLNRO, as per the September 18th letter, to discuss the mechanisms identified and available to him to prevent industrial logging on Bowen.
We urge you to move quickly and effectively on this very important issue and would like the opportunity to address Council.
Yours sincerely, David Hocking
On behalf of Defend Island Forests Steering Committee
John Dowler, David Hocking, Will Husby, Jae Mather, Brenda McLuhan, John Rich, Margaret Swain, and Bob Turner