It remains on their list but BC Timber Sales won’t be auctioning cutblock DL 1313 in Elphinstone until they receive direction from B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.
“Staff have heard from BC Timber Sales that they are … on hold with respect to District Lot 1313 and they are awaiting the minister’s decision on this,” CAO Janette Loveys told the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board at a Feb. 28 meeting.
She said ministry staff had also confirmed with SCRD on Monday that an anticipated letter from Minister Donaldson “is prepared, it just hasn’t been sent yet.”
Directors have been seeking to take forest licence A91376, also known as the Reed Road Forest, off the auction list for several years. In December, they requested an immediate Cabinet Order to suspend the auction.
“It’s been over two months and I don’t see that we’ve made any progress,” said Elphinstone director Donna McMahon, who raised the issue at the meeting, adding that progress on DL 1313 is “particularly frustrating” because while the ministry has discussed a land use plan with shíshálh Nation, DL 1313 is in Skwxwú7mesh territory.
After McMahon made a motion to send a “reminder letter” to the minister, Area D director Andreas Tize said he was reluctant to seek confirmation. “I’m just wondering if we want to poke that stick in the hornet’s nest,” he said, adding, “While we’re waiting, what we’re actually desiring is happening… Why do we want to have that response now that might not be in our favour?”
Gibsons director Bill Beamish pushed for a meeting – something they tried and failed to do in December – telling directors DL 1313 is “an easy one” for the ministry to avoid. “We’ve done all the easy things. The hard thing is to go there and ask the questions.”
Following the debate, directors voted on a motion to go ahead with the letter and to request a meeting with Donaldson at a logging industry convention in April that SCRD chair Lori Pratt is scheduled to attend, as Donaldson is expected to be there also.
During the discussion, shíshálh director Keith Julius asked the board about next steps if they don’t receive support from the ministry, to which Pratt responded, “All we can do is ask. This is one of the areas we are hopeful we have influence on, but we can’t change a minister’s mandate.”