Our Community Forests: Next CALL TO ACTION. Sign The Letter to Council.

January 17, 2019

Dear Mayor, Council, and All Concerned About Our Community Forests,

In a recent correspondence, our Mayor raised the question: What is the public perception of a clearcut? It was shared with Where Do We Stand (WDWS) and the ripple effect was immediate—the one question growing into others moving outward through the community. As comments came back, so did insights into the confusion of the December Council meeting and it became clear: To query the public impression of our municipal logging is also to ask why hundreds of people showed up at the extraordinary meeting and afterward walked away scratching their heads.

We thought our collective message had been clear. The meeting of the 19th saw an unprecedented turnout and expression of concern by community members about the future of the forests.

The concerns stated were diverse, ranging from lack of transparency, forest management practices, a lack of planning, to clarity about a vision and role of our Community Forests: Tzouhalem, Prevost, Sicker, Richards, Maple, Stoney Hill.

1,200 people had submitted written comments and signed a petition requesting a pause in all logging of the Six Mountains to allow time for public consultation on the future of our forests with a variety of experts. (The petition has not yet been submitted to Council as it is ongoing)

At the end of the meeting, the request for pause in logging of all Six Mountains was left unaddressed by Council. Why? Hundreds of citizens walked away asking, “What just happened?” No one could say for sure. There was no time to ask.

The next day, the tempest hit our valley and pause happened in its own way—or, since this about the forests—as nature would have its way. The citizens were told we can’t afford to pause—(the numbers are debatable). As if on cue, the extraordinary storm delivered possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars of timber, and many questions: How best to capitalize on this opportunity? What if revenue from the windfall could offset a pause in logging this year? What would the sustainable, “Close To Nature,” “Continuous Cover Forestry” models of the world recommend for salvaging? What about the forest city of Lübeck, Germany—the land of small logging roads, tractors, pulleys, minimal disturbance, and increased productivity? What are the options? Who will decide?

Our new forester is already facing the challenge of learning a new forest, creating a new plan, responding to citizens articulating changing priorities—is there a mandate to allow the forestry department to pause to consider the options of how best to salvage?

For those who are new to the conversation about our community forests, if you read nothing more about this issue, please read this: When the pause movement requests time for public consultation on alternative logging practices, there is no implied criticism of how our forests have been managed to date. Advocates for pause have repeatedly expressed gratitude and respect for our foresters who have served, mostly as volunteers, to raise revenue for our community.

The pause movement is not about the past; it is about our community awakening to the gift of our Community Forest—the only one like it in North America; it is about changing ecological, economic, and social values.

When hundreds of people show up at a council meeting before Christmas out of love for the forests—change is in the air.

When 1,200 people request the expansion of the Forestry Advisory Committee to represent a community forest, it is a sign of the changing times.

When citizens ask to see a five year Forest Management Plan—including visual images of what our mountains could look like in a relatively short time—it is a sign of an engaged citizenry hungry for involvement in the management of its’ Forests.

Over the holidays, some citizens reached out to Councillors to ask why the public request for pause of logging of our Six Mountains had not been addressed. Some Councillors explained: The unprecedented attendance at the Council meeting was so overwhelming, the information so complex, (like other issues on the agenda), the process so new to those Councillors recently elected—it was impossible to digest everything in one sitting. In fact, after the meeting, some Councillors were left asking themselves, What just happened?

We know the feeling. Post Council meeting confusion, to be clear, here is what we are asking for:

  1. We believe there is a need to map out a pathway, a process for exploring the role and future of our forests; a process that is transparent and inclusive of the community and a variety of experts on the forests.
  2. We urge Council and staff to begin this process before any more plans are made, logging roads built, tenders put out, or contracts signed for 2019, and before logging revenue is factored into the budget for 2019.
  3. Given the overwhelming pubic request for pause of logging of the Six Mountains, we are requesting a timely response by Council, with advance notice of meetings.
  4. We believe the recent watershed referendum is proof of public commitment to pay for higher values. If we do not pause to re-assess how we manage our forests, the tax dollars we are about to pour into our water may be flushed away.
  5. We must pause to weigh the balance of short-term profit from current logging practices with possible long-term repercussions for our children and all who follow.

WhereDoWeStand.ca will continue to compile questions and comments submitted by citizens to be forwarded to Council. The petition will continue until pause is granted. This letter is the first of a series called Voices Of The Valley; it began when our Mayor generously opened the floor to allow all people at the Christmas Council meeting to speak. Public engagement has just begun.

We are collecting signatures to send to Council and to print in the Valley Voice.
Thank you! Your submission has been received and your name will be added to the list shortly!
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Brenda Schnell
Garry Stewart
Jamie Covey
David Polster
Brenda Vian
Icel Dobell
Linda Wallace
Irvin Bahnmann
Len Thew
Chris Istace
Mark Wallace
Robert Fullerton
Bruce Coates
Marilyn Palmer
Cari Burdett
Jasmine Rose
Bill Tennant
Debbie Bateman
Sheila Badman
Chris Davis
Erin Godfrey
Lorna Jaynes
Linda Evans
Janice Whitehead
Karen Severson
Helen Watler
Linda Hill
Kathie Oud
Carolyn Morris
Tricia Bergland
Melinda Hull
Krista Derksen
Alyssa Thew
Chris Ralston
Phyllis Book
Ria Lewis
Azja Jones Martin
Brent Fraser
Dale Kelly
Nicole Downer
Julia Madison
Sharon Jackson
Diana Childs
John Scull
Robert Dievert
Dianne Andrews
Joy Beck
Amanda Evans
Dianne Balfour
Judith Henderson
Guy Dauncey
Marianna Padolsky
Ken Bendle
Donna Zipse
Alicia Taylor
Donna Martin
Mark Corrigan
Jytte Ebbesen
Kendall McLean
Denis Berger
Hannah Auer
Keith Neufeld
Rick Magliocco
Jenn Mankelow
Patricia Field
Cheryl Mueller
Cynthia Montgomery
Patrick Rife
Stacey Denton
Jared Williams
Asti Williams
Nejma Belarbi
Clare Carver
Tracy Taylor
Ingrid Vieira
Michael Sawyer
Maggie Muddiman
Jim Muddiman
Lauretta Daynes
Gillian Baird