~ an open letter to Premier John Horgan ~
It’s been a while since we chatted. If you recall, you called me quite a few years ago when I was riding you over fracking. ( I think I even referred to you as the frackmaster because you were such an eager advocate)
You were reaching out to bloggers trying to make connections with the only friendly coverage the NDP had while the BC Liberals were in power, and we ended up in a long discussion over fracking in BC. It ended with you promising that if the NDP were elected, you would do a complete review of fracking and if the science didn’t support it…you would call a moratorium.
Well John, we know how that turned out….https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-science-panel-finds-b-c-doesnt-know-enough-about-fracking .
What you didn’t say back then, was that you would go onto order a BC review that expressly left out the impact on human health, a failure that doesn’t serve the public interest. http://thenarwhal.ca/b-c-s-narrow-fracking-review-doesn-t-serve-public-interest/ Worse yet, it fails everyone who lives near fracking operations, including the workers who run them. http://thenarwhal.ca/words-sacrifice-zone-caleb-behn-how-b-c-failing-first-nations-fracking/
But I digress because although it’s a travesty that seems to be forgotten and it shouldn’t be ( pretty sure Michelle Mungall wouldn’t ever choose to live near the fracking she now supports) It’s not why I’m writing you today.
I went to the forest yesterday, as I often do, because I find my soul in forests….in the beauty, the peace and the lush green of forest floors and canopy….and while I did again find my peace yesterday…I also felt a deep concern.
While it looks lush at first glance in this area, the forest is not well. Those here who know their woods like the lines on the palm of your hand, and have a strong connection to the land, will know when things aren’t quite right, wherever they are. Things are not in balance here. The forest floor is tinder dry. The salal is dying here too, like it across the island https://www.cheknews.ca/salal-plant-dying-across-vancouver-island-557660/ . Some are musing it’s the cold snap we had. Others say drought. I’m wondering if might be some kind of pathogen that causes a plant virus not unlike the one killing the Kauri trees of New Zealand.
The creek is dry. The marsh is dry. There are hardly any slugs in areas where slugs usually are found among the mossy limbs. And the moss itself, usually lush and dense and soft….is feeling parched like you might find it in late July or early August.
I’m worried John. Worried that unless we get whats known here on the island as June-uary ( a wet and chilly June) we’ll lose even more of the western Red Cedars that are dying along the drier east coast of the island due to drought conditions several years in a row. https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/summer-drought-deals-devastating-loss-to-western-red-cedar-b-c-s-official-tree-1.23428047 I’m worried we’ll see another fire year like last years, and the year before when skies remained a dusty orange grey red like one might expect on Mars, not Earth.
This province really is an amazing place John and I think you know that. I’ve seen most of it except the north coast and the Kootenays and every area is unique and remarkable in its own way. The commonality between all of us living in rural BC, outside of the Metro Van and Fraser Valley area, is that sometimes policy makers like yourself, don’t do what’s right, they do what’s easy or what keeps corporate donors/unions/supporters happy. We saw a lot of that kind of policy and decision making under the BC Liberals. They are part of why so much of Vancouver Islands crown lands ended up in private hands and access to lakes and even mountain trails, are locked up by gate access.
When it comes to social issues, your party has excelled in many areas, with a lot of work still to be done. Yet when it comes to environmental issues, including fracking and logging, truly it’s been status quo from the BC Liberals or worse… and it’s not going unnoticed. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-a-change-in-government-has-done-little-to-alter-bcs-environmental/
Does it surprise me? No. I know you have always been part of the brown wing of the party, but you are getting into dangerous ground now on several issues and I think you likely know that. Dangerous because once gone, it will not regain its magnificence in many lifetimes. Case in point is the crazy amount of old growth logging going on all over this island, including the cuts planned here https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/port-renfrew-chamber-decries-logging-plan-1.23811698
This, is insanity John, and you can’t allow this to happen to a community that has struggled and is facing new challenges. People come to see these trees, hike the trails and simply just sit in awe for the same reason I and thousands of other go to the forest… to find their soul. Their peace. To reconnect to a place so wild and untouched and old that it gives one a feeling of reverence. These old forests on the island are increasingly becoming economic boons to small resource communities smart enough to see the writing on the wall….and see that these beautiful forests are more valuable standing than cut, as people come from all over to find solace and peace like I do.
This story is far from over though John, because despite your governments efforts to keep timber cut in BC, in BC, its still going overseas right now. And mills have been closing in various areas, some for short periods now, but lets be realistic, they are delaying the inevitable: Forestry is a dying industry in some areas of BC and it’s time to act to help the most vulnerable communities plan for a future that isn’t dependent on mills. This was back in November : https://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/all-major-forest-companies-in-b-c-cut-production-1.23497721
The mountain pine beetle took almost half of BC’s harvestable timber. People who havent seen northern and central BC would be stunned to see the massive swaths of land left largely barren in areas. Several extremely bad fire seasons has taken even more marketable and young timber. It takes time for second and third growth trees to mature to size and frankly, even massive reforestation isn’t going to save many of these smaller communities futures. Compounding it all? Spraying glysophate on fire resistant aspen in regenerating forest stands so growing timber doesnt have to compete! This actually makes the second growth less fire resistant. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/it-blows-my-mind-how-b-c-destroys-a-key-natural-wildfire-defence-every-year-1.4907358?fbclid=IwAR1nZF9ASpeL9BProAoho_JwIZJPV0vdncdXGoBn9t6AVRx0NsL2bpGhDg8
This is an opportunity for government to act and create a forest industry transition task force and fund, to immediately assist communities like Clearwater and others, strategically plan away from traditional forestry industry and retrain workers. Temporary shutdowns will inevitably lead to permanent ones in some communities based on these conditions, and instead of delaying the inevitable it’s time to show leadership.
This task force should be given a time sensitive mandate to:
1. Identify impacted and at risk communities in BC, and meet with mayors/councils.
2. Partner with key community persons to evaluate community strengths, marketable assets to identify potential market investments in other industries. Likewise, challenges and hurdles must be identified with potential solutions.This is time to think out of the box, not give false hope.
3. Reach out to unique and complementary sectors that are growing with community specific marketing campaigns.
Growing up in a town and family dependent on forestry makes me particularly sensitive to the needs of these communities and how quickly entire communities can bust if immediate action isn’t taken. Finding new markets for wood fibre isn’t enough. It’s time to talk transition, to make sure small town BC doesn’t die. There is unique opportunity here to get on top of this, whether its stopping the cuts in Port Renfrew, or looking at what unique qualities these other communities have to offer.
Sometimes the tough decisions and talks no one wants to hear because they strike – fear, fear of change and fear of failure – are the ones that need to be done, John. The climate is changing faster than we have been adapting John.
Please stop the old growth logging on Van Isle. We don’t have much left.
Don’t log the planned cuts near Port Renfrew. Listen to that community and see they have found a new way to evolve economically, using those trees as an attraction.
Help interior forest communities transition to new economies where second growth industry industry isn’t currently sustainable.
I’ve had my say John, so I’ll leave you with this.
“It’s not by accident that people talk of a state of confusion as not being able to see the wood for the trees, or of being out of the woods when some crisis is surmounted. It is a place of loss, confusion, terror and anger, a place where you can, like Dante, find yourself going down into Hell. But if it’s any comfort, the dark wood isn’t just that. It’s also a place of opportunity and adventure. It is the place in which fortunes can be reversed, hearts mended, hopes reborn.”
These following photos were taken by Mark Worthing, Sierra Club, in the Tsitika watershed, showing old growth clear cuts.
P.S. : How is it that after a just few weeks of high gas prices you call for an independent investigation by the BCUC into the situation ( hello price gouging) ….
Yet after nearly a year of news investigations, whistleblower reports, FOI revelations, police investigations and the German reports into money laundering & corruption…..you still haven’t called a public inquiry AND aren’t sure if that’s the best route??! #facepalm