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Concerned citizens confront Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA over old-growth logging

Environmental groups demand that B.C. government make changes to forestry management
June Ross, chairwoman of the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition, questions Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley during a rally in front of his office on Thursday, June 6. Ross and others were calling on the provincial government to end old-growth logging in B.C. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

Residents upset about continued old-growth logging gave their local MLA a piece of their mind.

Approximately two dozen concerned citizens and individuals from various environmental organizations met with Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, on Thursday outside his constituency office, where they demanded an end to old-growth logging and further action on the environment.

The rally, which was one of 17 rallies to take place across the province, included speeches from the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition and the Sierra Club B.C. Routley fielded questions for more than an hour.

June Ross, chairwoman of the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition, told the crowd that the province must immediately implement a moratorium on old-growth logging in B.C. She said the problem is exacerbated by governments that don’t do enough while corporations continue to destroy the Earth.

“It’s governments that do not take a principled stand to protect our Earth and all of its inhabitants. It is the greedy corporations that rape and pillage and give nothing in turn and yet they control every waking hour. It is time to put a stop to all of this,” she said.

Ross, who later delivered a letter to Routley, said her organization isn’t just concerned about old-growth logging, but also said there is generally far too much logging occurring near community water sources and that the province must make changes to give local governments more control over what happens within their watersheds.

Routley said the protesters’ concerns are complex issues that will not be solved overnight. He said the NDP is trying to undo policies made by the former Liberal government and blamed the previous government for allowing the “trading” of tree farming licences.

“That consolidated the industry and led to very bad outcomes and they disarmed the government’s ability to intervene,” he said.

The longtime MLA pointed to the NDP government’s recently approved bill requiring timber companies to receive provincial approval prior to the sale of any tenure as an example of efforts being made to protect old-growth forests.

“We are protecting old-growth forests, we’re moving towards it,” he said, adding “it takes a long time to pass a bill.”

Routley also said the provincial government’s efforts have been on other issues as well such as providing affordable housing. He said based on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, it is only after people have food and shelter that they will care about the environment.

“If you want people to care enough about the environment they can’t be worried about whether they are going to be homeless or can feed their kids,” he said, leading to an angry response.

Sierra Club B.C. is calling for increased conservation and say the loss of old-growth forests threatens plants and animals, carbon storage and clean air and water.

“The longer we delay the less old growth will be left, with negative consequences for communities, endangered species, ecosystems and our climate. Once these trees are gone, they will never come back,” said Galen Armstrong, lead organizer for Sierra Club B.C., in a press release.

GUEST COLUMN: B.C. has the most sustainably managed forests in the world 
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