The Sunshine Coast Community Forest operating arm, Sechelt Community Projects (SCPI), says it spent $79,692 on legal and audit fees in the first quarter of 2018 as a direct result of court action by the group Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF).
In a report for the June 6 Sechelt council meeting, SCPI chair and president Glen Bonderud said, “This was a totally unnecessary cost and impacted directly the extraordinary dividend we will be presenting to the SCCF Legacy Fund.”
Bonderud said the dividend from 2017 has been set at $750,000. “Quite frankly we would have liked it to have been more,” Bonderud said in his letter. “This is a cost that the citizens of the lower Coast should not have had to endure.”
Bonderud’s letter goes on to say SCPI will be pursuing payment of the costs awarded by the BC Supreme Court in a May ruling on a case brought by ELF against SCPI and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) claiming they didn’t hold proper consultations on the cutting permit issued for the block in the East Wilson Creek area known as EW28 or the Chanterelle Forest.
ELF succeeded in getting a temporary injunction to halt the logging of EW28 last December, but the court ultimately ruled that consultations had been carried out properly and FLNRO was correct in issuing cutting permits.
EW28 is one of three blocks SCPI has in its harvest plan for the period between the fall of 2017 and 2020. The others were EW23, also in the East Wilson Creek area, and a block in Halfmoon Bay.
The first quarter report also says, in terms of logging operations, 8,993 cubic metres of timber was sold in the first quarter at an average value of $126.09 per cubic meter for revenues of $1,133,913. The projected volume for the year is 28,000 cubic meters.
The Community Forest board postponed the annual general meeting set for early May and has not yet scheduled a new date.
Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne is on record as saying the district plans to launch a public consultation and engagement on the Community Forest in the coming months, but no details have been released.