On Friday December 14th, Cortes Islanders sent Island Timberlands a holiday message in the form of a flotilla blockading the entrance to the Gorge Harbour. Eight yachts, about 20 skiffs, 15 kayaks, canoes and a barge bearing Santa Claus formed a line across the narrow channel. It was a festive scene with the vessels all bedecked with banners, live music and determined islanders singing that I.T. Shall Not Pass. Island Timberland’s log dump in the Gorge is critical to their forestry plans for getting heavy machinery to the island and then shipping the logs out.
When I.T. walked away from the blockade at Basil Brook on Dec 1st, they said that they were going to reconsider their options and to restart consultations with the Cortes community again. They have not done that yet.
Residents are advocating for local stewardship of these forests, which would be maintained according to eco-forestry practices, and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that an acceptable solution is reached. The present plan for industrial logging in the heart of our island putting at risk provincially designated sensitive ecosystems, wildlife corridors and watersheds all for the sake of corporate shareholder profits and raw log exports to Asia is not acceptable.
The flotilla on Friday was a symbolic blockade but it firmly states that the Cortes community is prepared to stop I.T. both on land and at sea and that we are waiting for I.T. to return to negotiations.
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