A company logging on private land in the Chapman Creek watershed suspended operations for the rest of the year after protesters lifted a three-day blockade last week.
The informal agreement was facilitated by Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) chair Garry Nohr, who met with AJB Investments managing director Mark Rogers on Oct. 8.
In an email the next day to SCRD chief administrative officer John France, Rogers said company officials met internally to consider their options after Rogers spoke to Nohr.
“We will abide by the chair’s request to wrap up our operations if the illegal blockade of our property is removed,” Rogers wrote.
Nohr, speaking at the Oct. 9 community services committee meeting where the Chapman logging issue led the agenda as an emergency item, said when he met with Rogers he conveyed the message given to him by Hans Penner of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), who organized the blockade.
“The information presented today fits in with what the protesters had requested me to pass on,” Nohr said. “I think it’s a win-win situation, at this point.”
In his email, Rogers said once the blockade was lifted, the company would return the next day to clear the site, situated beyond the Sechelt landfill on the west side of Chapman Creek, and ensure all environmental measures were in place.
France said a company official, in a subsequent phone conversation, confirmed the promise to suspend operations also included the east side of Chapman Creek, where roads are reportedly in place but no logging has begun.
The company also made a verbal commitment to notify the SCRD before any logging or road-building activity starts in the spring.
Addressing the committee, Penner was at first reluctant to agree to end the blockade without having all of the assurances from the company in writing.
Nohr, after telling Penner that he had done a good job of raising the issue and reminding him that SCRD staff would be monitoring the creek for turbidity, suggested the company’s offer was sincere.
“I’m confident enough after talking to this manager yesterday, how candid he was, that he was speaking from the heart and the truth,” Nohr said. “So I would be willing to go along with what he says.”
After briefly conferring with ELF’s Ross Muirhead, Penner agreed to dismantle the blockade that afternoon.
At the same time, Penner said the larger issue of logging on private lands within the community watershed has to be addressed.
“That’s the issue that needs to be dealt with before spring,” he said.
Nohr said Rogers was “very candid” about why he did not inform either the SCRD or Sechelt First Nation of the company’s logging plans.
“It was because under legislation they don’t have to,” Nohr said.
AJB Investments, part of the Surespan group based in North Vancouver, owns large blocks of land on both sides of Chapman Creek and operates under the Private Managed Forest Land program.
Directors agreed to discuss the issue with Sechelt Nation council at next month’s joint watershed management advisory committee meeting.
Nohr said the SCRD should develop a protocol agreement with AJB “so we don’t run into this problem again.”