What was initially supposed to be a series of presentations put on by the Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee at the Community Centre on Monday night instead became a support rally for foresry workers in the region outside the locked doors with signs on them that announced the event had been cancelled. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

What was initially supposed to be a series of presentations put on by the Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee at the Community Centre on Monday night instead became a support rally for foresry workers in the region outside the locked doors with signs on them that announced the event had been cancelled. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Sierra Club presentation becomes pro-forestry rally after Campbell River event cancelled

Organization says it’s disappointed that their booking at Community Centre was cancelled by the city

The Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee were scheduled to host a presentation entitled “Forests: A Climate for Change” at the Campbell River Community Centre on Monday night, but the event was cancelled at the last minute based on recommendations from the RCMP and the City of Campbell River over concerns including “a high risk of emotionally charged behaviours and security and public safety reasons,” the organization announced on its Facebook event page.

“We’re really sorry to folks who had planned to attend and especially to anyone already on their way to the event,” the post reads. “We are in communication with the city about rescheduling a public meeting in the future.”

The event was initially planned to be “an evening of presentations on the climate crisis, the state of old-growth and second-growth forests on Vancouver Island and how these two relate to each other, followed by a discussion about how we can build a just and sustainable future together,” according to the group, but when word got out about the presentation, it became a rallying point for those in the forestry industry, many of whom are currently out on strike or dealing with other downturns in the industry, such as recent curtailment announcements.

In response to the clear opposition being voiced by many in the community, it was announced earlier in the day that the format of the event would be changed.

“Due to recent logging curtailments, the ongoing Western Forest Products strike, and the economic realities facing forest industry workers, we are changing our plans for this evenings’ event,” the group announced. “We are dropping our planned presentations and instead will provide space for an open community discussion about these complex issues,” adding “Our goal has never been to antagonize forest industry workers. Our organizations do not seek to end forestry on the west coast. Yes, we advocate for the protection of rare and endangered forests, but we want to see a healthy and sustainable forest industry that benefits people in forest communities. We have a lot to learn about this, and this is our intention when we host public events on the North Island.

“We look forward to having a respectful conversation with those in attendance. There has never been a more important time to come together and find common values than now.”

But the 200 or so people who turned up to have that discussion were met with signage on the doors that the event had been canceled and instead rallied outside the facility in support of forestry in the region.

Leigh Baker and his partner Lacee Myatt were two of those community members who came out in support of the industry.

Baker works as a contractor under Mosaic Forest Management, and says he showed up to hear from “the other side of the argument,” intending on quietly attending the presentation.

“I just wanted to understand where they were coming from,” he says. “I wasn’t even planning on saying anything, but this is my livelihood. This is what feeds my family. I just went to hear why they want that to slow down.”

He says when he arrived to find the doors locked, he was “a bit disappointed, but I have to say it was also pretty heartwarming to see how many people showed up in support,” Baker says. He also says he didn’t see the “security issue” that was cited.

“I didn’t see one disgruntled face. It was just a bunch of loggers there supporting each other, having discussions. There was no hostility,” Baker says.

“Nobody wanted a conflict,” Myatt agrees. “Everybody just wants to understand what’s going on.”

Mark Worthing of the Sierra Club says they, too, would like to understand what’s going on. Worthing says the organization was told at 5 p.m. that their booking had been canceled by the city and “we weren’t really even given a clear explanation.”

“This is what’s frustrating, because it feels like we’ve kind of been hung out to dry by the City of Campbell River,” Worthing says. “It makes it look like we weren’t excited to talk to everyone, which we absolutely were. We dropped all our presentations in order to have this open discussion instead, and then they just canceled our booking.”

They’re still hoping to hold the event, however, and Worthing says he hopes that those who showed up to the impromptu rally in the parking lot come back for it again once it’s re-booked.

“I think it’s outrageous that the city has shut down public discourse like this,” Worthing says. “This is an important dialogue that needs to happen in the public right now around forestry work, the forest sector, conservation, climate change – all the important issues we were looking to talk about.

“We actively seek out the perspective of the forestry sector to try to find conservation solutions, so something went awry here, and we’d very much like to know what it was,” Worthing continues. “We don’t see anyone else hosting dialogues like this, which is why we put them on. We can’t afford not to talk about this stuff, and it needs to involve the voices of the forest sector.”

RELATED: Canfor adds Christmas closure to B.C. forestry curtailments

RELATED: Mosaic Forest Management announces forestry shutdown



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam at a press conference last year. (Canadian Press photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Better federal vaccine planning badly needed

Why hasn’t Parliament done more to protect seniors and care homes, asks letter writer

Police in Nanaimo hope to find the owner of a Giant Reign mountain bike that was seized after a man was spotted riding it without a helmet on the wrong side of the road on Christmas Eve. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP suspicious to find expensive bike covered in layer of duct tape

Police looking for owner of Giant Reign mountain bike that they believe was stolen

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker causes pain and damage at downtown Nanaimo gym

VIDEO: Suspect breaks fire alarm, slams door on business owner’s foot after attempting to defraud her

Scott Saywell, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent and CEO, has seen his contract renewed for four years, the district announced Wednesday. (SD68 YouTube screenshot)
Nanaimo school district renews superintendent’s contract for four years

‘Singing superintendent’ Scott Saywell under contract through 2024-25 school year

Cyclists pick up swag and cycling trail maps at city Bike to Work Week ‘celebration station’ a few years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo’s active transportation plan will be about more than infrastructure

City working on goals to double walking trips and quintuple cycling and busing trips

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read