Friday, January 12, 2007

If a tree falls across the harbour, will anybody see?

The call by Ken Cote to halt the prospect of logging across the harbour from the city seems to not be finding much in the way of official traction. With Cote penning a recent letter in the paper, calling for the population to speak up to stop the logging plans, the issue has received a higher profile than would be normal.

In the end however, there’s not much that could be done even if the Cote position was adopted by the population at large. And as it looks at the moment, current indications seem to suggest that his is a minority opinion in the community.

The councillor didn’t seem to have much luck with his fellow councilors as three of them, Gordon-Payne, Briglio and Kinney as well as Mayor Pond stated that they were comfortable with the plan to selectively log land on the Metlakatla side of the harbour.

Coun. Kathy Bedard did not provide a quote nor an opinion for the paper, leaving only councillor Joy Thorkelson to speak openly about sliding over to Cotes’ side of the argument.

Not that Prince Rupert has much of a say anyways as to what happens over at Metlakatla. In effect, the only government body that can have any input into the decision of the people of Metlakatla is the Ministry of Forests, which is unlikely to intervene on the issue.

The topic was given some play in Thursday’s edition of the Daily News.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, January 11. 2007
Pages one and three

Three council members and the mayor made it clear their position does not reflect Coun. Ken Cote’s opposition to logging across the harbour.

During a council meeting Monday night, Coun. Sheila Gordon-Payne, Tony Briglio and Nelson Kinney, alongside Mayor Herb Pond, said they were comfortable with Metlakatla logging selectively across the harbour.

“The practice we are talking about across the harbour is going to be entirely consistent with logging along the Inside Passage, which will protect visual values, ‘said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

“Metlakatla has come forward as a good neighbour not having to apply to most stringent standards but having chosen to apply the most stringent standards for that area. I have been quite comfortable with their ability to do that responsibility.”

Council has been debating its stance on the logging proposal for more than a year, despite the fact it is the Ministry of Forests, not city council that has the final say.

Metlakatla is proposing to log 50,000 cubic meters during the next two years. The proposed logging will not have an impact on anything other than 1.5 per cent of the visible landscape.

Coun. Ken Cote, who was not at the council meeting, recently expressed his opposition to the logging proposal in a letter published in the Daily News.

”I have monitored logging and weather on the North Coast for the past 35 years and have seen hundreds of blow down areas in logged areas and in non logged areas and a lot of the blow downs are known to very few people. My fear is that this logging will damage our precious view that we are now just beginning to sell to the cruise ship industry and to the world of tourism,” said Cote in his letter.

Coun. Sheila Gordon-Payne said his view was not her view, although she chose not to state her position.

“We have been trying to address this whole issue, it’s now January 2007, and I would like to put it to rest as soon as we can so the public is clear on where we stand if we have a need to stand somewhere,” she said.

Coun. Tony Briglio said he had done some independent research and now felt that logging could be done without damaging the view. Previously he was “strongly opposed.”

“I feel the same way (as Briglio,)” said Coun. Nelson Kinney.

“With the fishing and everything so bad, that’s jobs for their people and it’s their land, I don’t think we can have much to say about it all, I am sure they will look after it and make it look fine.”

“It’s more than just about jobs,” said Briglio. “We we’re initially approached on the basis of how Prince Rupert folks would feel about this. I think the bands did their job with respect to approaching us and being very prudent in the manner they have dealt with this issue so far. As Coun. Kinney pointed out, we do not really have a lot we can use in the terms of hammering our way.

“The only thing that would impact us is the visuals. And from what I have learned from my own studies, visuals can be dealt with effectively these days. That’s the issue we should be dealing with, how does it affect what we can see? If we can’t see anything from this side, and that’s a possibility, do we really care?”

Meanwhile, Coun. Joy Thorkelson is now leaning the other way – she was originally in support of the proposal and now, after independent research, believes blow down could destroy the view years after logging has occurred.

“It does us no good if the logging is done beautifully and they pick out ever log and you can’t see it from Prince Rupert because they do it in a pattern so we can’t even notice and then five years from now there’s a blow down and it is just Stanley Park over there. I think we need to talk to somebody and ask those questions,” said Thorkelson.

Council agreed to invite the district forest manager to meet with council at a public meeting to explain about blow down and how the area would be monitored in the future. Council had previously scheduled a meeting with the district forest manager, but then cancelled it when too few councilors could attend.

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