The TimberWest forest company says it has no harvesting planned for 2019 in the hills above Youbou.
Spokeswoman Karen Brandt said no harvesting on the TimberWest lands in that area will occur until the necessary scientific analysis is completed and the company has conferred with the relevant authorities.
“Safety is our highest priority at Mosaic [which manages TimberWest]; nothing supersedes it,” she said.
“This is true for our employees, our contractors and the communities in which we operate.”
In 2017, TimberWest dropped plans for a new bypass route around Youbou Road for logging trucks after concerns were raised in the community about landslides, erosion and severe water run-off into Youbou from the new bypass route above the community if its construction went ahead.
But the company didn’t rule out logging on its lands in the hills in the future as part of its harvesting plans, and indicated that smaller access roads may be required to reach these areas.
However, a report conducted by Ebbwater Consulting and Palmer Environmental Consulting Group for the Cowichan Valley Regional District that was released last month concludes the steep slopes above Youbou will likely be increasingly prone to landslides due to climate change.
The report indicated that the projected increased intensity of rainstorms in the area due to climate change will cross a critical threshold for triggering landslides.
Brandt said that in 2018, TimberWest initiated a detailed, scientific terrain analysis for its timber lands above Youbou.
She said this process is still ongoing with Golder Associates, an internationally respected geotechnical engineering firm, along with other geological and terrain experts.
“Existing data will be supplemented with results from new investigations, which will provide detailed surface and subsurface data from core samples, on-the-ground geophysical surveys, highly detailed LIDAR, and other data obtained using technologies that were not part of the desktop study commissioned by the CVRD,” Brandt said.
“To facilitate this work, we will be building access routes, as previously communicated to residents. When completed, the full study results will be made available to the CVRD and Youbou residents. We are committed to working with the CVRD, the province and the community on any further independent, scientific-based review deemed appropriate.”