A petition has been started to preserve a forested area along Nanaimo River Road slated to be logged. (Submitted photo)

A petition has been started to preserve a forested area along Nanaimo River Road slated to be logged. (Submitted photo)

Residents ask RDN to try to protect Nanaimo River swimming hole

Petition calls on region to preserve land along Nanaimo River Road that is slated for future logging

Residents are hoping to preserve a forested area along Nanaimo River Road slated for logging.

Tanya Taylor started a petition in response to Mosaic Forest Management’s plan to log a parcel of forested land between Nanaimo River Road and Nanaimo River in Regional District of Nanaimo electoral Area C (Extension-East Wellington-Pleasant Valley), 3.2 kilometres east of the intersection at Nanaimo River and South Forks roads. A land-use forester told her that Mosaic will build roads followed by harvesting, she said.

Taylor said she has been coming to the spot year-round since the early 2000s. It is a popular swimming spot and she has heard from many people that they don’t want to lose access. She seeks to have the area turned into a community or regional park.

“The numerous personal comments on the Change.org petition tell me that people love this area and do not want to lose accessibility nor see its beauty destroyed,” said Taylor. “Logging will undoubtedly have environmental ramifications as well, largely due to the coal mining debris that remain in the forest along the river.”

Paul Chapman, Nanaimo and Area Land Trust executive director, said the area has “riparian value.” The land trust has talked with Mosaic about possibilities for the area that don’t involve logging, he said.

“Most of these places that we love and love to go exist on private land and not in parks and we’re going to have to figure out how to ensure both the natural and the recreation values of these places,” said Chapman. “It’s a tricky thing to do. It’s a different ratio of public land to private land than everywhere else in B.C. It’s unique to the east coast of Vancouver Island and it really is challenging.”

In an e-mail, Mosaic Forest Management said the area is less than 20 hectares and “second-growth harvesting” is planned, but not expected to take place in 2021. “Hydrology, fish, terrain, wildlife, and recreation” were taken into consideration in area design.

“There are several areas of retention and plenty of protection along the riparian corridor. The main trail into the swimming hole is well buffered,” the forestry company said.

Mosaic added it is not against selling the land as it has completed many land transactions with government, land trusts and other organizations in the past. “Under the right conditions,” it would be willing to hold talks with groups like the RDN and NALT about potential sales of its lands for “fair market value.”

Mosaic said it has spoken with the government and public and when plans are complete, it will share them with the RDN, City of Nanaimo, Snuneymuxw First Nation and other stakeholders.

A presentation on the subject, by a delegation not associated with Taylor, was made to RDN directors at their board meeting Tuesday, July 27. Tyler Brown, RDN board chairman, said he hears from a fair number of constituents about wanting to see more green space preserved, from Cable Bay to Nanaimo River to northern parts of the RDN.

“On many properties of note, the RDN works with private land holders, including Mosaic and other forestry companies, as well as other governments and trusts to see how we can advance the preservation of natural space in the region,” said Brown when asked about approaching Mosaic.

As of Tuesday afternoon, close to 4,600 people had signed the petition.

To view the petition, go here.

READ ALSO: VIU partners with Mosaic on Indigenous internship program


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