Having attended the meeting on January 13 concerning logging on Mount MacPherson, I wish to respond. The meeting consisted of presentations by the recreation officer, and the forest companies who have areas where they have the rights to log adjacent to Revelstoke. These companies are Stella Jones, Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation and British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS) and Downie Timber. Representatives from Stella Jones, Downie Timber, and BCTS answered presubmitted questions put forward mostly by members of the cycling club, Nordic club.
Stella Jones and BCTS are the companies mostly involved in logging Mt. MacPherson, Boulder and Frisby Ridge. They also gave a Forestry 101 briefing. I was struck by the one-sidedness of what was called for over and over again: we must work together. Sounds nice, but in fact the forest companies under the umbrella of provincial legislation have all the rights and those affected such as recreationists. tourists and spiritual seekers have none. Nor do the municipalities involved or the regional districts.
This legislation is for the benefit of the whole we were told. The problem here is that when the whole has precedence over the part, oppression results. The whole in this case is comprised of the Christy Clark Liberals and their corporate friends who are benefitting by far the most. The corporations in this case are BCTS, the provincial forest company, and Stella Jones. So any “consultation” or “negotiation” or “working together” is a one sided affair where the local interests have to come with cap in hand.
The process of this meeting was an example of this dynamic. A standing-room only crowd listened for over an hour to what was a fait accompli re: logging the near forest, and how we should be grateful for any funds coming from the forestry investment fund (the colloquial name), without being accorded any time for questions from the floor.
The economic argument made by the forest licensees for how their industry benefits the local economy was based solely on their statistics on local jobs. Of course they had the forest companies at the top and indeed the local mill is a large employer. Revelstoke Mountain Resort was recognized as an important employer especially seasonally. Then they mentioned CP Rail and BC Hydro.
However, no mention was made about jobs that depend on the other forms of tourism. Indeed other types of tourism were not mentioned at all. To access the economic value of these other forms of tourism it is probably necessary to look at revenue generation. This could probably quite easily be done by a short survey to be given to customers at restaurants and hotels or motels asking if they are visitors, if so, for what purpose, how long they’re here and where they are staying and eating.
What I think everyone knows in general is that snowmobiling in particular, cycling, Nordic skiing, hiking and visiting the Parks, heli-skiing and backcountry skiing are together probably far bigger generators of revenue than RMR or the local logging industry. In other words logging, the original and long term main industry of this province and this town has to move over and share the bench with tourism and not just with RMR.
The implications of this are many, one of which I wrote about in an earlier letter to the editor on logging on Mt. MacPherson. The current land use plan, the Revelstoke Higher Level Plan, was written more than 10 years ago — probably hashed out 15 to 20 years ago. Times have changed immensely since then, and a new land use plan is direly needed, one which will recognize the several powerful driving economic forces of this town — not just logging. This would probably mean protecting the near forest around Revelstoke from resource extraction. The benefit to the whole by listening to the part in this case would be greater.