Public participation process in the works for Reed Road Forest

Public participation is being planned by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) as it works to establish next steps for what to do about the controversial 48-hectare (118-acre) cutblock known as DL1313.

In March, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson informed the SCRD that BCTS would not advertise the sale of Licence A913765, known as DL1313 or the Reed Road Forest, in Area E until discussions between BCTS and the SCRD “have occurred in a meaningful way and a balanced management approach has been developed for the area.”

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That prompted the SCRD to figure out what those discussions would look like and who would be involved. A May 9 staff report confirmed that BCTS is looking for direction from the SCRD on a public participation approach as part of that process.

Directors reviewed a public participation draft plan and voted to circulate it to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, the Town of Gibsons and local committees, including the Elphinstone Advisory Planning Commission, for feedback. A staff report suggested a timeline of eight to 12 months “may be considered,” which would allow for “multiple points of dialogue, with time for research, review and reflection.”

Directors also decided to request funding assistance from the province.

Director Donna McMahon asked that one line in the consultation plan be changed. In a section outlining what is non-negotiable, the plan reads, “at the current time, staff do not believe that ‘no harvesting, ever’ is an option that the Province will consider. McMahon ask that they add “on the Sunshine Coast.”

“To start off the process by basically contradicting our own stance on this, is not where I would like to go,” she said, referencing the SCRD’s stated opposition to logging DL1313. “If we start by stating that logging is non-negotiable, then we’ve just given up the battle.”

Once feedback is collected on the process and cost reviewed, staff will report back to a committee.

The March letter from Donaldson also advised the SCRD that the province is undergoing a “modernized land use plan” (MLUP) with shíshálh Nation, which could also influence the management of the area in question.

At a May 9 SCRD board meeting, director Darnelda Siegers said Sechelt council had met with their shíshálh Nation counterparts who informed them that the land use plan won’t get started until up to two years from now because the province has to “staff up for it,” said Siegers. “They’re ready on their side to start, but the province isn’t.”

In the meantime, shíshálh Nation would like to see a regional growth plan completed, which would inform the MLUP.

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