Residents are sounding the alarm on the B.C. government’s plans to earmark 25 percent of Gambier Island for logging.
Peter Snell, a director of the Gambier Island Conservancy, told the Georgia Straight the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations has been “ignoring the public entirely” concerning the proposed establishment of two neighbouring woodlots covering 1,326 hectares of Crown land.
“It’s a huge chunk,” the lawyer, who has a summer home on the island, said by phone. “Gambier, we call it the wild heart of Howe Sound because it is one of the last remaining areas of wilderness that is this close to Metro Vancouver.”
Gambier, just north of Bowen Island, is already home to a 402-hectare woodlot. The province has received six bids for each of the new woodlots, which include old-growth trees and hiking trails.
On Thursday (July 24), from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the ministry will hold a “public information meeting” at St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church (4773 South Piccadilly Road) in West Vancouver. A “public drop-in” will take place on Friday (July 25), from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Sewell’s Marina (6409 Bay Street) in Horseshoe Bay.
According to Snell, the ministry added the drop-in after Gambier residents complained about the arrangements for the meeting.
“They have such a disconnect with the community that they didn’t even realize that the time and place they set, it was impossible for people who are residents of Gambier to get to the meeting and get home that same night,” Snell said.
Forests Minister Steve Thomson wasn’t available for an interview. A government information package says woodlot licensees must seek public input and get ministry approval for their plans before logging can begin.
Snell asserted the ministry should have consulted stakeholders before defining the woodlots. He said the conservancy may pursue legal action against the ministry for “failing to abide by their own rules”.
“I think they feel that the only way they’re ever going to get this place logged—some of the most valuable timber in the Lower Mainland area—is by jamming it through,” Snell said. “Any pause, any stop, and they know that it will be really hard to ever get people to agree to log old-growth forest this close to Vancouver.”