It appears that the minister in charge of forests is no longer open to meeting with Lantzville councillors to discuss measures to protect parts of Woodlot 1475.
Earlier this year, Lantzville councillors sent a letter to the minister requesting an in-person meeting with Doug Donaldson, B.C.’s minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development; as well as Snaw-Naw-As chief and council; members of Save Lantzville Forest, a citizen group calling for protection of the Woodlot 1475; and John Gregson, the woodlot’s licence holder. Lantzville’s letter also called on Donaldson to impose a moratorium on logging within the woodlot.
While in Nanaimo on March 21, Donaldson told the News Bulletin that he would “definitely be willing” to meet with Lantzville councillors to discuss a proposed 60-hectare protective corridor within Woodlot 1475. He also said that mentioned that a compromise had been reached with Gregson in late 2017 to include protections for an area around the trail, but did not provides specific details.
In a letter dated March 25 addressed to Lantzville council and obtained by the News Bulletin, Donaldson said he does not “believe a meeting with all parties is necessary at this time” and rejected the proposed 60ha protective corridor as well as imposing a logging moratorium in the woodlot.
“The ministry reviewed the proposal carefully and considered the need to balance local economic, environmental and social needs. Much of Crown land in the Lantzville area is already under a form of protection,” Donaldson said in the letter.
Donaldson did indicate that his ministry was supportive of further recreational development in the Knarston Creek area. Donaldson’s also said the ministry has no legal authority to stop logging within the woodlot.
Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime called Donaldson’s response unsurprising, adding that the the ministry is busy with other issues.
“The minister’s response about no value in a meeting at all does not surprise me in any way, shape or form because their time is at a premium, if they are going to be working on initiatives, it’s ones they think they are going to be moving forward,” he said.
In an e-mailed statement to the News Bulletin, Dawn Makarowski, the ministry’s communication officer, said the ministry rejected Save Lantzville Forest’s proposal back in April 2017 stating that the ministry is considering increasing protections for Coastal Douglas Fir around Lantzville.
Makarowski also said the ministry proposed working with members of the Lantzville Woodlot Advisory Group, a board made up of members of the public and Gregson, in December. She confirmed that a compromise was reached in 2017 and that it includes designating a new recreation trail within the woodlot instead of protecting 60ha, but did not provide specifics.
“The new trail will need to be designed in such a way as to minimize riparian disturbance and maintain protection of the watershed. The application would also need to be reviewed by the ministry including the district ecosystem biologist and recreation officer, as well will require input from the local First Nations and the woodlot holder,” Makarowski said.
Phone calls to Coun. Dot Neary, who is the district’s elected representative on the advisory group, were not returned.