Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

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Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Mike Chouinard, Comox Valley Record, April 18, 2021

Following on its recent work with a couple of young people on a Green New Deal, Cumberland’s council is getting behind a move to protect old-growth forests in B.C.

The April 12 meeting agenda included a request from the Comox Youth Climate Council (CYCC) about the issue. The group had submitted a copy of a letter sent to the premier as well as a number of cabinet ministers and MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard.

The letter cites logging plans for sites like Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, continuing on to note old-growth trees now make up less than a per cent of provincial forests.

“There was a time where old-growth Coastal Douglas fir forests covered the Comox Valley. Today, almost none of these forests remain due to over-exploitation and a legacy of old-growth liquidation policies,” it stated.

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It requests the province to bring in immediate deferrals and bans in old-growth forests, work with Indigenous communities on long-term plans and implement all 14 recommendations of the province’s Old Growth Strategic Review Panel.

Locally, the CYCC was looking for support from municipal governments to have the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities call on the province to take these steps.

Cumberland council members were sympathetic to the request, though they noted the issue is one that has caused debate at meetings of local government organizations in recent years.

“It is just so controversial and divisive for a lot of resource-based communities,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said, though she voiced her support for the letter. “I don’t think there’s any denying that it’s not sustainable. We’re already down to … just a fraction.”

Coun. Vickey Brown expanded on this, describing the letter as “fantastic,” saying she had been thinking about these issues since she was in university. She was critical of industry efforts to protect old-growth forests while creating fewer jobs because of mechanization and consolidation.

“They have completely failed to create a sustainable industry,” she said. “We have a forest that surrounds us and very little employment.”

Council unanimously voted to support the call to protect remaining old-growth forest immediately.