From the bleachers — the six mountain forest debate

Authentic dialogue means different perspectives are allowed to present.

From the bleachers — the six mountain forest debate

Last Wednesday, at a heated council meeting about the community forests, during the break, the mayor and I discussed how great the debate was. And it was. After the meeting, I felt elated, kicked in the gut, confused and conflicted. I wasn’t the only one. It was a great meeting, another full house. If you weren’t there, you should have been. The forest debates are that heated and exciting. Here’s my take on last week’s:

Authentic dialogue means different perspectives are allowed to present. Transparency means all perspectives are on the table. Between council and staff, in this last meeting, there was dialogue, dispute, agreement and transparency. In the bleachers, the public watched, applauded, (were reprimanded), groaned, cheered quietly, could throw in their two bits, beginning and end of meeting, but weren’t part of the dialogue.

The majority on council are saying public consultation must begin. Some said no decisions about salvaging more blowdown should happen before consultation. They had previously voted for salvaging from a sense of emergency, not realizing removing blowdown would mean logging mostly live trees. A debate ensued. It was riveting. Councillor Sawrie held out for public consultation before more salvage contracts. The majority voted for a reduced cut. We weren’t all happy with the compromise but the debate continues.

There was a discussion between staff and council about the nature of a forest. It, too, was riveting. One staff member called trees “crops” to be harvested. The public sighed.

In contrast, several councillors have been educating themselves on forest ecosystems, watersheds, fire prevention through deciduous trees, the importance of healthy soil, mycorrhizal networks connecting trees to share nutrients, water, information, and more, and were able to speak intelligently about healthy forests.

The minutes from the Forestry Advisory Committee meetings were another hot topic. Some councillors were concerned the minutes don’t represent alternative forest values added to the committee — in particular, one member’s lengthly reports that council aren’t privy to as they aren’t in the minutes. A small cheer went out when council said this must change.

The big news is council will ask UBC forest experts to collaborate with our community to facilitate transition from the old to the new. Council again committed to public dialogue as the first priority. The question is how will citizens be given access to necessary information about the forest issues, including changing ecological, economic and social values?

Icel Dobell

North Cowichan

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: A Canadian hero I wish I had talked to

Almost nobody was there on that cold Newfoundland day when Terry Fox started his run

Caps improve to 3-0

Lynn and Arquiett score two each as Caps double up Chiefs

Carving in Cowichan provided road to recovery for stroke victim

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get out of bed or walk, let alone carve”

Sarah Simpson Column: Use your smarts to slow down early holidays

It’s Friday the 13th. There’s a full moon. A rabid bat is… Continue reading

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

Nanaimo company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

VIDEO: Seniors at B.C. assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living in Salmon Arm

Most Read