The protest on Mount Elphinstone took a decided turn for the stupid this week.
Sunshine Coast RCMP reported three more arrests, including two men in their twenties – one from Bowen Island – who had locked themselves to logging equipment in a futile attempt to stop a local company from logging a contentious cutblock near the “Twist and Shout” mountain biking trail. They were apparently following in the footsteps of the protester who calls herself Salamander and was pictured on our front page last week, being led away by police with a bike lock around her neck.
The real idiocy, though, was on display Monday when some bright bulbs blockaded the road by setting fire to a pile of brush; the logger who discovered it said he saw four people running off into the trees. Inadvertently setting the forest on fire would have really taught those loggers a lesson.
Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), the group spearheading the protests, said it did not condone Monday’s stunt – and in fairness, the vast majority of protesters have conducted themselves with dignity. They have a just cause, but creating major difficulties for a logging company that has the legal right to harvest the cutblock, and for the RCMP who are obligated to enforce court orders, is misdirected and divisive for this community. The problem lies with the provincial government and demonstrations, complete with bike locks, would actually make a lot more sense in front of the Legislature
Support for expanding Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park, and saving the remaining intact forest within that area, is significant, almost overwhelming. The Roberts Creek community, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, shíshálh Nation’s leadership and the Sierra Club have all officially endorsed the park expansion – meaning they also are opposed to logging out cutblock A87125. The economic argument is strong for retaining Elphinstone’s wild slopes for recreational tourism.
Writing letters to ministers, issuing statements and making speeches, however, have not resolved the issue, and we can expect more protests and more trees down until effective action takes place. All parties have to sit down together and respectfully work out a compromise, accepting that neither side will get everything it wants.
That’s the only way we can get peace on the mountain.
– John Gleeson