Logging opponents gather at MLA’s office

Logging continues in the Clack Creek Forest cutblock A93884, but members of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) say there’s still time for the province to order a halt to the harvesting, preserve the area as a potential future park and offer the logging company an alternative site to log.

Supporters of ELF and the Living Forest Institute, an initiative ELF launched last year, gathered at the office of Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons Monday to try to urge him to take their message to Victoria.

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Simons was not scheduled to be in the office, which the group knew about beforehand.

Hans Penner of ELF said Simons did agree to meet with him, Sarah Lowis of the Living Forest Institute and Roberts Creek’s Sunshine Coast Regional District director Andreas Tize on Feb. 7.

“We want to send a strong message to our MLA that we don’t think it’s too late yet and if the government shows some will they can still issue a stop work order and then make an arrangement with Black Mount [Logging] and the First Nations,” Penner told the crowd of around 40.

“We think the message should still be stop work in Clack Creek right now, followed by a general declaration of a moratorium on logging in the proposed park area.”

Penner said given work on a new land use plan with the shíshálh Nation is still ongoing, a moratorium “is a very reasonable thing to ask for.”

Penner also said Simons, and the NDP government he belongs to, need to show “a little more determination” on the issue.

ELF’s Ross Muirhead added that the group is now commissioning an economic analysis of the logging, which ELF contends will not bring any benefit to the Sunshine Coast despite the just over $2 million the company is paying in stumpage fees.

ELF and the Living Forest Institute claim supporters have already made nearly 800 calls to Forest Minister Doug Donaldson’s office, and people at the event were encouraged to write comments for Simons on paper hearts which were stapled to a sheet of plywood as an “art wall” to be presented to the MLA later.

The event Monday follows the first arrest of a protester on Mount Elphinstone after crews from the Squamish-based company Black Mount Logging, which secured a court injunction in late January, returned to the area Feb. 4.

The arrest came Feb. 6, after some 30 people gathered on the logging road leading into the Clack Creek cutblock. As many as eight RCMP officers were also on the scene and ELF member Laurie Bloom was arrested.

At an earlier demonstration, Bloom, who was also arrested during a 2016 logging protest on Mount Elphinstone, said she was willing to be arrested “if the opportunity arises.” 

“I feel it’s one more way to have this issue heard,” she told the crowd at the Jan. 30 event. “We have struggled 30 years in this community to get this park and if the Clack Creek Forest comes down we lose connectivity permanently between the upper and lower parks and that dream dies.”

Sunshine Coast RCMP commander, Staff Sgt. Poppy Hallam, confirmed the arrest without naming the person involved, and said they would be charged with disobeying a court order and blocking a public highway.

In a press release sent after the arrest, ELF called that second charge “unusual” and “heavy-handed” given the arrest took place on a logging road.

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