Updated at 3 p.m. Oct. 27
Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) has taken down the blockade.
"After the logging contractors drove past the blockade and took a picture they didn’t return," ELF spokesperson Ross Muirhead told Coast Reporter in an email. "Winds started to get very gusty, with heavy rains so it became very apparent that it was an unsafe working under these conditions (branches were snapping) and also being outside in the forest."
Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) set up a road blockade Oct. 27 on the spur road that accesses cutblock EW 24, off the Sechelt Airport Forest Service Road. Logging of that Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF) site did not start that morning, as had been proposed.
Plans had already changed
According to SCCF operations manager Warren Hansen, the delay to work at the site was not due having ELF barricading access to the cutblock.
“Our contractor did not start today due to the storm and will commence when it is safe to do so,” Hansen told Coast Reporter. He indicated the project may proceed as early as Oct. 28 or next week, depending on the weather forecast.
ELF spokesperson Ross Muirhead said that he and two other group members (Hans Penner and Laurie Blume) are at the road block. He reported that between 8 and 9 a.m., two trucks with logging company personnel did turn back from entering the site.
Hansen confirmed SCCF’s contractor had approached but did not enter the site. He said that the plan for the day was “walking the block and doing orientation for an equipment operator” who is scheduled to work on the harvesting project.
SCCF not disclosing future plans
He told Coast Reporter he had “no comment” on the blockade or any plans that SCCF has to address it moving forward or on plans to meet with ELF to discuss their demands.
“The only plans we [the SCCF and ELF] have are to meet with the Roberts Creek community tonight,” Hansen stated. A forum on “Forestry in the Creek” sponsored by that area’s community association is set for 7 to 9 p.m. at the Roberts Creek Community Hall, with ELF and SCCF representatives scheduled to answer questions than have been submitted in advance.
Blockade down, concerns continue
“We plan to maintain the blockade until they [SCCF] live up to our demands,” Muirhead said. At 3pm, he advised Coast Reporter that the protesters at barricade left for safety reasons, stating "winds started to get very gusty, with heavy rains so it became very apparent that it was an unsafe."
ELF wants to see EW24 protected for old growth recruitment, as part of the national healing forest initiative, until there is further archaeological work undertaken and as elk habitat. Muirhead said his group objects to what he characterized as an “ad hoc” process that SCCF has used to address concerns raised about logging the site.
Another concern for ELF is logging the site in a time when atmospheric river weather conditions are affecting the Coast. Muirhead stated that during and after logging “there’s going to be increased surface water runoff. There are numerous studies that document logging and road building show a direct correlation with landslides and the blow out of infrastructure.
“There are power lines and Sechelt Airport below this site.”