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Sechelt prepares to log near the airport

Areas marked for harvesting this spring
Airport logging
Logging at the airport is supposed to start this spring.

A 3.8-hectare section of land on the southeast corner of the Sechelt airport, near the Dakota Forest Service Road, is being prepared for logging.

On Dec. 13, boundary markings were placed on the property, which is owned by the District of Sechelt, on behalf of the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF). Operations manager Warren Hansen confirmed that SCCF will be advising the municipality on the project and co-managing it with municipal staff. 

Hansen said that selective logging and tree trimming within the marked area is being planned for. This will include the topping or removal of large trees that have been identified as navigation hazards for aircraft on approach to the recently expanded runway.

Also planned as part of the project is tree clearing on one hectare within the existing airport boundaries. Once cleared, that land is intended to support expansion of facilities such as building sites or open parking areas for aircraft and maintenance equipment storage.

The logging is supposed to start "fairly soon this spring," Hansen said. Current work being done at the site is the legal surveying required around the adjacent private properties. 

Elphinstone Logging Focus spokesperson Ross Muirhead told Coast Reporter that falling boundary tape in the area butts up against private property on the north side. That has raised concerns for the property owner, he said. 

Nigel McInnis, with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development stated in a Jan. 11 email that while Sechelt does not require a cutting permit for the work, a private timber mark for removal of logs from the area is required and has not been issued. In a Jan. 6 email Sechelt communications manager Lindsay Vickers was unable to confirm whether the timber mark had been applied for.  She indicated that further details would be made available after Jan. 17, when staff assigned to the project return from vacation. 

“The District will also work with Environment Canada to ensure that all works completed within any riparian areas have suitable protective measures in place,” she wrote. 

When asked if there would be notice to the public in advance of the logging activities, Vickers’ email stated that Sechelt’s plans for the area were discussed and endorsed in public council meetings last fall.

Hansen said that as the property involved is owned by Sechelt, once permits are in place, he was not aware of any “fiduciary requirement” for additional consultation or notice before work can commence.

In a report to Sechelt’s Sept. 22 committee of the whole meeting, Hansen estimated that a timber volume of 2400 square meters is available at the two sites and that the sale of the logs should generate about $290,000. 

Vickers estimated that once harvesting costs were covered, the municipality should net about $200,000 in revenue. 

During 2022 municipal budget discussions held in late 2021, council identified that revenue as a funding source to embark on an Airport/Aerodrome Master Plan process this year. The goal of that project is to plan for and enable cost-effective development of the airport. It would evaluate the existing infrastructure at the site, identify improvements needed to meet future demands and suggest options on how to pay for those enhancements. In addition, guidance on airport marketing and governance will be sought in this process. The estimated budget to develop the plan is $60,000.