This letter is addressed to community members on the Sunshine Coast.
Thank you for sharing your perspective on old growth forest protection. With so many changes happening so quickly, I felt it was important to share my thoughts on the developments.
As a result of the shift that is occurring in forestry policy, Premier John Horgan announced on June 9 that our government is honouring the request by the Pacheedaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Ditidaht First Nations to defer logging in the Fairy Creek Watershed and the Central Walbran Valley for two years.
The over 2,000 hectares deferred adds to the nearly 200,000 hectares our government has already protected, including over 17,000 hectares in the Upper Southgate River, as well as the Dakota Bowl. Further protections are proposed for up to 60,000 hectares as part of the recovery plan for the Marbled Murrelet, an at-risk species for which Spipyus Provincial Park was named.
All decisions around deferrals require consultations with the respective Indigenous Nations. This is a key part of our work implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
There is an overhaul of forestry policy taking place right now in our province. This is not a fast or easy process, but it is well under way. Our vision is for a forestry sector that is more adaptable, gets more value from our wood products, preserves old growth, and where the local community benefits. This complements our work to implement the Independent Panel on Old Growth’s 14 recommendations.
I read the emails and letters, I was told about the phone calls, I saw the signs, and I have heard about – and witnessed – the demonstrations. While focused on important legislation in the House, I assure you that your perspective, and that of others in Powell River-Sunshine Coast, was, and is always well represented in Victoria.
While this announcement was one important step, we know there is a lot more work to do. That’s why our government will announce more old growth protections this summer, following ongoing consultations with Indigenous rights and title holders.
Nicholas Simons, MLA for
Powell River-Sunshine Coast