By David F. Rooney
City Council has taken the first steps towards the possible creation of a new land-use plan for the Begbie Falls area, which is currently being logged by Stella Jones.
Council decided Tuesday afternoon to ask staff to look into feasibility of creating a plan to replace the decades-old Begbie Falls Integrated Resource Plan that had been created in the 1990s to govern logging in the area that is a favourite of recreational-use site by Revelstokians.
It made the decision after receiving letters from Community Futures Development Corporation and the North Columbia Environmental Society.
“Revelstoke’s vision states we will be committed to exercising our rights with respect to decisions affecting the North Columbia region,” CFDC Chairman Mike Cummings said in his letter to Council. “We believe to BFRIP, based on consensus decision-making, local wisdom and involvement, supports that vision. The Stella Jones plan, parachuted in from afar, does not.”
Stella Jones is currently logging about about 60 hectares at two different locations in the area. It has not broken any laws or regulations and, according to one employee who was at an open house the company held last November to explain its logging plan, it is required to log the area it holds tenure to within five years or it will lose its tenure to another company.
There is public appetite for a new plan to govern logging in areas used by Revelstokians. The question is: Will all the players agree to hammer one out.
Commenting on a motion by Councillor Phil Welock to have staff look at ways to create a new plan, Councillor Chris Johnston said “maybe it’s a done deal” but Council needs to look into ways to deal with future logging controversies.
The NCES letter, written to Kurt Huettmeyer of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and to Ashley Ladyman of Stella Jones by Vice-President Sarah Newton, said current regulations and processes regarding logging are inadequate.
“We consider current requirements to be inadequate for allowing public input on the harvesting of our timber resources,” she wrote. “We expect forest corporations to exercise higher environmental and social standards to meet the public’s expectations for use of our resources.”
However, Councillor Garry Starling said the ministry wrote its own letter to Council saying it was satisfied that Stella Jones is fulfilling its obligations under the law.
“It’s the same old, same old,” he said. “If this was happening in the Lower Mainland you know what the reaction would be. But out here in the Interior nothing changes.”