A judge in Vernon has placed an injunction on members of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), forbidding them from interfering with logging operations or encouraging others to do the same after a threatening comment was made on Facebook.
“The RCMP was made aware of some disturbing comments made on Facebook and is currently investigating the matter,” said Cpl. Steven Chubey of the Sunshine Coast RCMP. “As the RCMP was not involved with the injunction, it would not be appropriate to comment.”
RCMP were first notified of the commentary on May 11.
Chubey was unable to offer further detail, but an examination of the ELF public Facebook page revealed a mixture of comments including one from a person advocating a potentially violent response to logging activities on Mount Elphinstone.
“Scare ‘em [the loggers] off with tear gas and the bangers that scare bears away! If that doesn’t work … set booby traps,” one April 27 commenter wrote.
The injunction was signed by the Vernon court registry on May 15 after a lawyer made an application on behalf of Malaspina Enterprises, the Powell River-based logging company and Bell Lumber and Pole, the new holders of the BCTS A87124 contract.
Both Hans Penner and Ross Muirhead of ELF dismissed the comment. Penner, who said he does not use Facebook, said he strongly disagreed with the remark.
Muirhead described the comment as mean-spirited and unsupportive of ELF’s efforts.
Nevertheless, the two said they did not believe the comment to be the source of the injunction.
“The injunction was [acquired] by the logging company so that their business interest would not be impeded by protesters. It worked — no one wants to be fined or go to jail,” Muirhead said.
Penner said the group will be exploring its legal options in a response to the injunction. He said he was also concerned about the cutblock changing owners.
“According to BCTS, block A87124 was sold to Continental Pole Ltd. based in Pemberton. Now we find out that the owner is actually Bell Lumber and Pole Canada, a U.S. company with a subsidiary in Canada,” Penner said.
Originally the request for tender was awarded to the Pemberton firm, which manufactures log homes. Their winning bid of $52.40 per cubic metre valued the cutblock at roughly $2.2 million.
But since then, the contract has changed hands after a company based in Vernon wrote the cheque instead.
“It’s a transfer; you don’t really pay for a transfer,” said controller Jason Sixsmith with Bell Lumber and Pole.
According to Sixsmith, the harvested material will be used by the company to make poles for street-lights and electrical equipment. Many trees will not be suitable for this purpose, but they will not be exported, he stressed.
“It will go to local sawmills because you know, you never want to harvest anything and ship it around,” he said. “You keep the local jobs in the local area.”
Continental Pole did not return a request for comment.
According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, transfers are not common, but those holding the titles are legally entitled to move a contract to a new owner.
“All conditions associated with winning the licence remain the same,” explained spokesperson Vivian Thomas.
Protests were held on the mountain May 2 and May 15.