VIDEO: Old growth forest counter-rallies converge on the streets of Island city

Carl Sweet (left) speaks with Rod Burns before the march from Logger Mike to MLA Michele Babchuk’s office in Campbell River. The men were from two different sides of the issue of old growth logging in B.C. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorCarl Sweet (left) speaks with Rod Burns before the march from Logger Mike to MLA Michele Babchuk’s office in Campbell River. The men were from two different sides of the issue of old growth logging in B.C. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
A strong showing from people who support the forest industry co-opted a protest against logging old growth trees on Vancouver Island that was planned for downtown Campbell River June 10. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror
Rod Burns brings up the rear of the pro-Old Growth side of the demonstration. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorRod Burns brings up the rear of the pro-Old Growth side of the demonstration. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The event started as an old growth protection march. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe event started as an old growth protection march. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The two sides met at the MLA’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe two sides met at the MLA’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The two sides were intermingled in front of MLA Michele Babchuk’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe two sides were intermingled in front of MLA Michele Babchuk’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
City of Campbell River councillors Ron Kerr and Kermit Dahl demonstrate for the pro-industry side. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorCity of Campbell River councillors Ron Kerr and Kermit Dahl demonstrate for the pro-industry side. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
City of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth demonstrate for the pro-industry side of the old growth logging debate. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorCity of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth demonstrate for the pro-industry side of the old growth logging debate. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
City of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth stand in support of industry in front of a group of environmentalist protesters in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorCity of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth stand in support of industry in front of a group of environmentalist protesters in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
City of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth showed their support for the forestry industry in front of the MLA’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorCity of Campbell River councillors Charlie Cornfield, Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr, Kermit Dahl and Sean Smyth showed their support for the forestry industry in front of the MLA’s office in downtown Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror

Both sides of the old growth logging issue came to a head in Campbell River on Thursday morning.

What was originally going to be a small demonstration against logging old growth in solidarity with the campers at Fairy Creek, expanded as a counter-protest of pro-forest industry supporters who came out in numbers.

While both sides were adamant in their convictions, the majority acknowledged that there needed to be a middle ground struck between the two camps.

RELATED: Arrests continue to mount despite paused old growth logging on southern Vancouver Island

“We’re not deforestation, we practice forestry,” said Carl Sweet, who had come out in support of the industry.

Sweet was speaking with Rod Burns, who supported stopping old growth logging. Burns explained his side, saying: “We’re not against logging, we’re against current forestry practices.”

“You have a sign that says ‘Forestry Feeds My Family,’” he continued. “Well forestry feeds ALL families.”

Both convoys made their way from the Logger Mike statue in Spirit Square to MLA Michele Babchuk’s office. Babchuk was not present in Campbell River at the time. A sizeable contingent from the forestry side of the debate brought two logging trucks, along with a large number of demonstrators to counter protest.

City councillors Charlie Cornfield, Kermit Dahl, Ron Kerr, Sean Smyth and Colleen Evans were present, with City of Campbell River-branded placards proclaiming their support for the industry.

While tensions did not boil over into violence, many demonstrators from either side argued and debated their points in the street in front of Babchuk’s office. The old growth protectors took up the space in front of Babchuk’s office, while the counter protesters stood in the street in front of the building. The two logging trucks were parked in front of the office for some time, but moved on to allow traffic to flow.

However, not everyone was in agreement. Charlie Forrester came out in support of logging, said that “in my opinion, environmentalists have no place at the table.”

“Until they stop all this with the harassment, intimidation and threats of violence, they have no place at the table,” he added.

Richard Hagensen, from the old growth defence side, said, “It’s really important to say that we’re not against logging. We’re against old growth logging. There’s lots of second growth and third growth that can be logged. It will involve building more sawmills… to process that lumber here.

“We’re in the hands of a small handful of large logging companies that are basically ruling the roost and in charge of most of the logging in B.C. Things have to change.”

Hagensen, a representative of the Campbell River Council of Canadians chapter, left a letter at Babchuk’s office calling on the government to defer logging in all high productivity, rare and intact old growth forest.

After roughly an hour, the two protests ended and people dispersed.

RELATED: Pro-forestry supporters move in on anti-old-growth logging rally



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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