Lantzville votes against trying to buy woodlot

The woodlot is a popular recreational area that is currently being logged.

Lantzville will not be examining ways to protect a woodlot popular for recreational activities.

The District of Lantzville council voted unanimously Monday against instructing staff to investigate trying to purchase Woodlot 1475 for the protection of a watershed.

Woodlot 1475 is a 256-hectare property located in upper Lantzville and is more than 95 per cent Crown land. The woodlot is designated as a timber production forest and is currently being logged by John Gregson, who is the licence holder for the woodlot.

The issue surrounding the property stems from last year, when a local community group known as Save Lantzville Forest began pushing various levels of government to change the woodlot’s designation to a permanently protected area and compensate Gregson. The group cited recreational opportunities and environmental protection of various species that inhabit the area as reasons for protecting the woodlot.

While Lantzville councillors were supportive of the idea to turn Woodlot 1475 into a protected space, the issue is largely out of their control and the provincial government has been wary.

The motion of the woodlot being a community watershed was brought forth as a potential way to protect the lot.

Coun. Dot Neary, who didn’t support the motion, said there are a lot of complex issues surrounding the woodlot and that the district should not purchase it using taxpayer dollars.

“I don’t feel that I can take the responsibility to committing the district to looking into the purchase of a woodlot and … I personally, at this point, am not interested in acquiring the property on behalf of the taxpayers of Lantzville.”

A letter received earlier this year from B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson indicated the community could request a reduction in the annual allowable cut, but the woodlot must still be logged. In order to take control of the woodlot, one would need a licence.

Coun. John Coulson said the property is still in the provincial government’s control and efforts need to be made to change that.

“The property is still in the ministry’s hands as a woodlot licence. It’s a whole other matter to get that out of the governments hands and that is where the efforts have to be and I don’t think that is where our involvement should necessarily be at this time,” he said.

However, Mayor Colin Haime told the News Bulletin that there are still options for Save Lantzville Forest, including finding a partner who is willing to help acquire the licence and manage the woodlot.

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