A court action is still pending more than a year after members of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) established a camp on Mount Elphinstone in an effort to stop BC Timber Sales (BCTS) from auctioning the cutblock known as A87125.
The protests escalated and the company that won the right to log the area, Peninsula Logging, filed a notice of civil claim in August 2016 and an application for an injunction against demonstrators interfering with the logging, which has now been completed. Several people were arrested for defying that court order.
The injunction expired Dec. 31, but notice of claim remains active.
In a press release issued late last week, and in court documents, ELF argues that continuing with the claim amounts to a so-called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).
“This lawsuit is intended to drain our group’s resources and discourage the public from further protests or participation in the important dialogue around logging on the Sunshine Coast,” said ELF’s Laurie Bloom, who is one of three people directly named in the court action, along with Hans Penner and Ross Muirhead.
Court documents filed by lawyers for Peninsula Logging at various times since the notice of claim show that the company put up a deposit of $138,948.29 with BCTS, and the stumpage fee was approximately $1.29 million. And, in affidavits, Peninsula Logging’s Aaron Service estimated the company stood to lose about $6,500 for every day work was stopped – something that happened almost every day in September 2016 – and outlined at least one instance where equipment was damaged.
The statement of claim asks for unspecified damages.
ELF’s response alleges the company never had any intention of pursuing the claim, and filed it only to back up the injunction application.
In his Oct. 5 ruling on the injunction, Judge George Macintosh of the B.C. Supreme Court said the company had the legal right to log the area “with a view to pursuing its corporate livelihood as a logging operator” and the protesters’ conduct was “designed to sterilize” that pursuit.
The B.C. Supreme Court has yet to set a date to hear the civil claim.