General News · 29th February 2012
On Monday February 27th, I attended a meeting between tourism reps from the Discovery Islands and the Sunshine Coast Forest District. This meeting is in preparation for a subsequent one with the Ministers of Tourism and Forestry. Over the last 5 years, logging all through the Discovery Islands has increased, especially in the past 2 years and this has had a negative impact on local tourism. We all met to go over maps and documents at Taku Lodge on Quadra Island and then took a trip in a crew boat around the Discovery Islands for a first hand look at what the actual situation is.
It proved to be an informative discussion. Rob Vander Zalm, the Area Operations Manager for the Sunshine Coast Forest District, brought along Visual Quality Objectives (VQO) specialist Gerrard Olivotto. Representing area tourism was Ralph Keller owner of Coast Mountain Expeditions & Discovery Lodge on Quadra, Christine Fleming manager of Painter’s Lodge, Jack Springer manager of Campbell River Whale Watching, Lynden McMartin general manager of Taku Resort and myself for Misty Isles Adventures and Cortes Island.
Although maintaining the integrity of ecosystems is also of critical importance, it was decided that this government really only cares about business and the financial bottom line and so our arguments were based on the detrimental effects of current forestry practices on the tourism industry.
Some of the points brought forward as impacting tourism were:
• Tourism is playing an increasingly larger role in BC’s economy and in 2008 it actually exceeded the revenues produced by forestry. *
• There are 6.3 million potential customers living within an 8-hour drive of the Discovery Islands. *
• The Discovery Islands & Bute inlet are not forest sector dependent economies –less than 11% regional GDP comes from logging. *
• The Discovery Islands economy has a relatively high dependency on Tourism—about the same as the Tofino area. *
• There are at least 60 tourism operations employing over 650 people in the Discovery Islands area. *
• This area is incredibly special with high tourism potential. It boasts the warm swimming waters of Desolation Sound. The mainland fjords of Bute and Toba Inlets are home to the southern most grizzly bear populations making Campbell River the prime bear watching city in BC. The tidal rapids surrounding the Discovery Islands are a well known kayaker’s playground and give rise to the rich marine life including whales and fishing found in the area. With all of these attributes, this area is unique on the BC coast.
• This area also has 16 BC Marine Parks in addition to the land based BC Parks and Regional Parks, so at some level of government the area is already recognised as having high tourism value.
• Logging in the area has increased in intensity and viewscapes are not being adequately protected. Tourists come here for a wilderness experience, not to see industrial forests. While we recognise that forestry is a vital part of the BC economy, every waterway in the area already has recent patch cuts or is slated to be logged.
• The notification process is inadequate. Tourism operators and concerned citizens often don’t find out about logging plans until the chainsaws are already running. Logging companies are under no obligation to act on our concerns as long as they meet the forestry standards.
• Logging is only one issue. The cumulative effect of cut-blocks next to fish-farms and other industrial activities on the viewscapes is huge.
* Statistics from Ralph Keller compiled from Statistics Canada and surveys
The points brought forward by the forestry reps were:
• We are seeing an increase in logging in this area because Interfor has finished its logging of old growth in the Southgate and Homathco valleys of Bute Inlet and is now logging the 60 year old “mature” second growth in the Discovery Islands.
• Other than creating standards and laws that govern logging province wide, the government has no say in how a logging company will conduct its business on crown lands.
• Actions have been taken against Interfor for not meeting the stated visual quality objectives (VQO) for certain cutblocks in the area.
By the end of the meeting, these were the points we want Rob Vander Zalm to take back to the Ministers of Forestry and Tourism:
• This is a special area for tourism and it should be held to higher set of forestry standards than the normal ones.
• This area needs to be managed more holistically, so that the cumulative impacts of logging, fish-farms and other industrial activity can be managed together perhaps under the mandate of the Ministry of Tourism.
• The Discovery Islands are no longer the “hinterland”. What at one time made sense for forestry harvest planning now really impacts the livelihoods of other sectors and communities.
We hope to get a meeting with Ministers Pat Bell (Tourism) and Steve Thomson (Forestry) later this spring to express our concerns directly to them.
Given our current situation on Cortes Island both with the proposed Community Forest and the I.T. logging on private lands, the more opportunities that we have to lobby government from different perspectives the better. The current logging standards and practices just don’t meet the needs of ecosystems, communities and businesses in this area anymore. When we get that meeting with the ministers, I’d be happy to pass along any letters or messages that you may have.
Thanks Mike! Excellent work.
Comment by Dianne Bersea on 5th March 2012
This is excellent information that once again highlights the actual contribution of tourism and its related lower impact activities. Well presented. I'll send a letter too.
Forests will continue...
Comment by fawn baron on 2nd March 2012
Our forests will continue because of fanatastic thinking and proactive islanders like you; You are a most precious resource. Thank you Mike!
thanks for this info
Comment by Ruth and Roland on 2nd March 2012
Thanks for this well presented information, Mike, we'll be happy to add a couple of letters for you to take along when you go to meet with the ministers.