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A selection of letters we received this week, on forestry and development
Response to Logging Change: Old-growth forestry has deep roots on Vancouver Island, but how long can it last?
Andrew Findlay does better than most in explaining the oversimplified coverage of forest issues in BC, but doesn’t completely avoid the narrative that protecting old-growth and maintaining rural jobs must come at the expense of one another.
For many, the guaranteed instability of an industry dependent on irreplaceable, finite forests is one of the many reasons to protect them. Jobs centered on cutting trees planted by human beings could be sustained at a stable level forever — jobs based on the extraction of ecosystems developed over millennia cannot.
Only a few thousand hectares of that what the government claims to be protecting (a claim repeated in Findlay’s story) the highly-productive forest with the biggest trees that most people associate with the term ‘old-growth.’ The rest is less productive old-growth, second growth, which remains open to road building and logging, and non-forested areas. This oversight isn’t Findlay’s fault -- “353,000 hectares of old-growth” is the incorrect and misleading message given by the BC NDP government and repeated constantly by the party during last fall’s election.
The fact that solutions aren’t simple doesn’t excuse this kind of obfuscation. What’s required is a provincial government brave enough to expedite talks with First Nations and put up the billions of dollars needed to fund both the immediate loss of income for those impacted by interim protection of old-growth forests and the rapid shift to sustainable second-growth logging.
As Findlay’s article concludes, time is of the essence and the lack of both urgency and transparency on the part of the government is now as much a threat to the biggest trees in B.C. as any chainsaw.
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Vic High development consultation misleading
Any day now we expect to hear the date for the City of Victoria’s public hearing on the Capital Regional Housing Corporation’s 158 unit housing project on Vic High lands. Unfortunately, the public has been kept in the dark on many aspects of the negotiations that led to this housing proposal, a land swap with the City and plans for an 8 metre paved easement running from Grant Street to Gladstone Avenue.
The 2018 “consultation” on the future of Vic High excluded an opportunity for a fully informed dialogue between the public and the three entities involved: the City, School District 61 (SD 61) and the Capital Regional Housing Corporation. The public strongly supported the seismic upgrade to maintain Vic High's heritage values. After the fact we were told that this choice would result in a $2.6 million shortfall and that to cover that loss, we'd lose two acres of Vic High land, including the long promised multi-lane metric track and a refurbished playing field.
Would the community's decision have been different had this information been on the table? We'll never know. Currently, the community is in a tug of war between the need for affordable housing and the rights of students to athletic opportunities that strengthen their health and wellness. Both are crucial. But to make a decision based on a faulty consultation is unjust and irresponsible. At this point, the fiscally responsible and honourable thing for School District Trustees to do is to rescind their November 25, 2019 approval to dispose of this land at Victoria High School.