March 20, 2014
Late April, 2013, the Gambier Island Conservancy became aware that two new large woodlots were going to be advertised for logging. The two new woodlots combined with the existing one already in operation occupy about one quarter of the land on the island. This news was discovered while investigating the status of Old Growth Management Areas on the island.
On 9 July, a small group from the Conservancy and Gambier Island Local Trust Committee met with the Brian Kukulies – Land and Resource Planning Officer for the Sunshine Coast Forest District, to gain more understanding into the planned logging of the woodlots. A list of Q & A’s resulting from this meeting was distributed widely to the Gambier island community later in the month.
A letter writing campaign to the minister of the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) was launched in September followed by an online petition in December. Many letters were sent to the Ministry, the MLA and the Regional District Office of FLNRO requesting consultation prior to the advertising of the woodlots. The Future of Howe Sound Society wrote a Letter to FLNRO Feb. 9 and a similar, rather dismissive, response 204786 Response by all. In mid January, the Gambier Island Conservancy sent a letter to the Sunshine Coast District Manager (FLNRO) specifically requesting a meeting with him and asking that advertising the woodlots be held in abeyance. There has been no formal response to this request and no meeting has yet been arranged.
On 7 February, the Province moved ahead with advertising the Woodlots without further consultation with the community. The deadline for woodlot applications is 9 April, 2014. The District Office of FLNRO has made it clear that any further consultation with the community will not occur until after the licence has been awarded and the forest management plan of the licencee is under preparation. The results of the online petition with 436 signers was sent to the minister on 21 March.
It is not clear if the future Woodlot owners has been made aware of the concerns expressed by many and the fact the Howe Sound community will be waiting and watching to ensure concerns are addressed.