The logging of East Wilson Creek block two (EW002) has been delayed due to vandalism on the site.
On Nov. 15, Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) officials said they discovered that all engineering survey tapes had been removed from EW002. The theft was reported to Sunshine Coast RCMP, who are investigating.
Redoing the work will cost between $5,000 and $6,000, based on preliminary estimates, and will delay the start of logging about 14 hectares on the site for an undetermined length of time, SCCF chair and president Glen Bonderud said.
“That’s probably what the person who did it intended,” Bonderud added.
The incident occurred despite the SCCF posting an injunction on its two logging sites, with a court order from a Vernon judge forbidding protesters named in the order from interfering with the logging operations.
Copies of the injunction had been posted, torn down and re-posted on the sites, he said.
At a press conference in the District of Sechelt offices on Tuesday, Bonderud was reluctant to say RCMP would be called in to enforce the injunction, but noted the document contained an enforcement order. It authorizes any peace officer to arrest and remove any person who has knowledge of the order and acts in contravention.
“I would hope some people see the light and avoid that,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t obey a lawful court order, at some point, enforcement has to come in.”
Tuesday’s press conference was called by Sechelt Mayor John Henderson, who told media outlet representatives that he was “not here for any lectures. I’m not here to complain,” but did make a “request to watch the submitted articles and the ads” related to the logging dispute for “innuendoes and distortions.”
“Some of the stuff that’s been submitted, I think candidly, has crossed the line,” Henderson said.
He also warned the media outlets to “please watch for this terrible attack on the Internet and the virtual world” aimed against Bonderud personally.
Noting the board is comprised of “a bunch of volunteers,” Henderson called the attack “vitriolic and unsupported — just reprehensible. I personally don’t stand for it and I think it’s unacceptable in Sechelt.”
During a Nov. 15 protest in front of the District office, Henderson said, “again a line was crossed” when two protesters “came upstairs and then barged their way through the front, were verbally abusive to staff and came all the way down the hall to my office, pounded on the door — I was in a meeting with some people — and I opened the door.
“To make a long story short, I had to leave with my guests and the person located themselves in my office, wrote notes to me on my notepad on the desk, and we called the police and eventually that person left,” he said.
The District is not pursuing charges, he said, “because I think that’s part of their aim — to get attention.”
Henderson identified one of the two protesters as Penny Singh, who is also one of five individuals named in the court injunction.
In a statement, Singh told Coast Reporter that she attended the protest outside the District office and, “I did manage to make it into the mayor’s office, and I did speak to him,” she added.
Singh confirmed that she represents the Earth Summit Council and the Peace Tribe that has been camping on Mount Elphinstone. “It was the Peace Tribe that stopped the logging on Oct. 24 and again on Oct. 31 and again on Nov. 5, which is also the date myself and others were named in an injunction,” Singh said.
Bonderud confirmed the three dates, when logging operations were halted at East Wilson Creek block 11 due to the presence of protesters.
The Nov. 15 rally outside the District office was organized by Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), which has largely led the opposition against logging EW002.
At that rally, ELF’s Ross Muirhead said the group had raised $15,000 and was prepared to hand it over to the District of Sechelt as a dividend for not logging the disputed cutblock.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Bonderud called the cheque offer “a publicity ploy” by ELF: “It sounds good, but it comes nowhere near the value of land.”
Bonderud said the 14 hectares to be logged in EW002 will generate between $1.2 and $1.5 million in revenue for SCCF, based on current log prices that pay between $80,000 and $100,000 per hectare.
“Break the cheque down. That’s a thousand dollars a hectare. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Last year’s deferral of logging the cutblock cost SCCF $282,000, Bonderud said.
“We are an asset of the District of Sechelt. We can’t do that for too many years. We can’t have taxpayers fund a continuously money-losing project,” Bonderud added.
About 80 people gathered outside the District office for the Nov. 15 rally.
The $15,000 for the cheque, Muirhead told the crowd, was donated by “several prominent Sechelt residents, not people from Roberts Creek like us tree huggers in the Creek, but prominent residents who run businesses in Sechelt.”
The group had invited Henderson to speak at the rally, but Henderson declined, citing prior appointments, Muirhead said.
“We were hoping the mayor would come out today to accept this cheque,” he said. “If council doesn’t see this as a solution, we’re going to be very disappointed that they are entrenched in their own position and that’s not the way to run a community forest.”
At the urging of shíshálh elder Xwu’p’a’lich Barb Higgins, Muirhead said he would draft a petition and email it to ELF members. He also called on supporters to send emails to SCCF and Sechelt council, or to call the mayor.
— With files from Christine Wood