On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) director Lorne Lewis organized a community meeting at Frank West Hall to discuss the future of 118 acres of forest in Elphinstone.
The property, known as District Lot 1313 or A91376, is located in Area E (Elphinstone), of which Lewis is director. The property juts up against the eastern boundary of Area D (Roberts Creek).
Between 60 and 70 people attended the informal meeting, and plans are in the works to write letters, organize hikes and create awareness online, Lewis said.
The SCRD has repeatedly stated its opposition to the logging of the cutblock, which is part of the BC Timber Sales (BCTS) five-year plan, in part because of its location in the community watershed.
Residential properties are located next to the cutblock, which is a source of concern for Lewis. “There are an awful lot of people who have wells and it will likely disrupt water flow. Any time you do a clear cut … it disrupts the way water moves around a piece of land.”
He is also concerned that the proximity of residential areas, as well as their reliance on wells, makes it particularly risky during fire season.
“There’s no place to hook a hose to, so there’s no effective way to fight it in a spot like that,” Lewis said. “If you had a bunch of logging debris up there, that would all be tinder dry.”
The cutblock was going to be auctioned by BCTS in 2017, but according to an April 2017 SCRD planning and community development committee staff report, was put off until 2018 “to enable the SCRD to continue dialogue with the Squamish Nation and the FLNRO [Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations] to determine how to protect the lot from timber harvesting.”
BCTS is mandated to harvest 313,027 cubic metres of timber within the Sunshine Coast Natural Resource District each year, according to the SCRD staff report.
Elphinstone does not have any protected areas.
“This is our one piece of property to save,” Lewis said.