Wednesday April 23, 2014

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A few facts about this community forest business

Off the beach

There was a new tone adopted by some speakers at Wednesday’s demonstration outside the District of Sechelt offices. They were still there to protest the logging of 14 hectares in Wilson Creek forest, which was going on as they spoke, but some were now urging the 130 assembled to “know the facts” before engaging in dialogue.

Rally organizer Pat Ridgway took up the mantra from the start and others followed. At one point a woman yelled out, “So give us the facts.”

One of the big facts at the demonstration was the passing of the hat and the reality, for some of those present, of court in a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. Court and lawyers and legal jabber, trips to Vancouver or Vernon to face the music, lots of monkey business and plenty of botheration for a cause that was, alas, unsuccessful.

Sechelt elder Xwu’p’a’lich (it sounds a bit like “Hobalitch” with a hard O) Barb Higgins said she’d had better days and looked a little worn down from her ordeal. The 79-year-old was among the 10 arrested on Dec. 3. She is ordered to appear in Supreme Court in Vernon next month.

The man passing the hat said he raised $500 in about 10 minutes, then he switched receptacles and started passing around Xwu’p’a’lich’s traditional woven Salish hat, which is a deep tube that could undoubtedly hold a considerable roll.

Money is always a fact when you need some.

Here are some other facts:

Sechelt Community Projects Inc., which operates the Sunshine Coast Community Forest, holds and manages the provincial licence as a B.C. company. The District of Sechelt is the corporation’s sole shareholder. The community forest is a business, operated under a community forest agreement (CFA) with the province.

CFAs, according to the province, “are area-based, long-term forest tenures which provide the holders exclusive rights to harvest timber and non-exclusive right to harvest, manage and charge fees for botanical forest products and other products. CFA holders have stewardship responsibilities which include strategic and operational planning, inventories, reforestation and stumpage payments.”

While community input is part of the CFA process, the volunteer board’s mandate, at least under this government and this shareholder, is to run the operation as an effective economic stimulator for the local forestry sector. That means logging, because logging is the nature of the business.

One of the natural laws governing business is that it likes to be conducted in a business-like fashion. If you approach a business on the basis of “I love trees, and you love to kill trees, so let’s talk,” then you’re not being business-like at all.

Standing under someone’s window and pinging positive energy at them because “they need a lot of light,” as Ridgway put it Wednesday during the group ping, is displaying the same arrogance and disconnect toward the other side.

Some speakers knew quite a few of the facts and they’ve written off this particular community forest setup and are waiting for a change in government in Victoria.

That’s perfectly legit. Go for it.

Others clearly want to work with this board to prevent future conflicts and save as much of the forest as possible.

That’s where the new tone comes in. It’s still not there, but it’s coming along. And yes, it’s needed.



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