March 18, 2008

 

The details are sketchy as yet but it is apparent that the Sechelt Community Forest has been removed from the Chapman/Gray Community watershed. There are now no logging licencees operating in the community’s main drinking watershed.

Bruce Seifert of the Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB), in a presentation to the SC Regional District on March 13, explained that the ILMB is focusing on implementing the New Relationship with First Nations. Toward this purpose, First Nations in this forest district were asked to identify the most contentious areas in their traditional territories. The Sechelts identified the Chapman and Gray watershed situation as one of several major obstacles to land claim settlement. Seifert said that government is moving to put in place interim protections for many of these areas.

With its selection of the Chapman and Gray watersheds for interim protection the Sechelts have succeeded in helping to secure the watersheds for the benefit of all Sunshine Coast communities.

The intentions of Sechelt Indian Government and the Sunshine Coast Regional District for the watersheds have been known for some time and are expressed in the Joint Watershed Management Agreement of October 1, 2005. This agreement is widely supported by the public; it calls for the parties to pursue and assume the right to control the watersheds and to allow or disallow any activity for the purpose of protecting community drinking water.

Kevin Davie, operations manager for the community forest was given the word to cease operations in the watersheds in a meeting with Pat Bell, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, on March 11 in Victoria. In all likelihood the community forest will be given new operating area(s) as compensation for the lost cutting rights. We hope the community forest owners see this as an opportunity for a fresh start.

Any new operating areas in close proximity to the District of Sechelt are likely to be contentious, Mount Elphinstone for example. However, an honest and genuinely respectful approach to public consultation could well provide the direction that the community forest needs to have if it is to become the environmentally responsible, socially acceptable and economically feasible enterprise that everyone would like it to be.

Check this website for regular updates, we will keep you posted as events unfold.

 

Daniel Bouman, Executive Director