Decision on blow downs rushed, no public input
Last week, three meetings about the forests occurred: Monday, the Forestry Advisory Committee meeting; Tuesday, the Public Assembly for the Community Forests at the Performing Arts Centre; Wednesday, a council meeting resulting in a critical forest decision about harvesting the wind throw.
The community assembly, organized by Where Do We Stand, was a full house, with hundreds of people lining up at the last moment to buy tickets. PAC called it an unprecedented event.
If we ever needed evidence of public concern, interest, and commitment to looking for new ways to manage the forests, the community assembly has given council the support it needs to create a new vision with public participation.
Most councillors attended. We were grateful to the mayor and Councillor Douglas for speaking at the event. So, when we learned, 24 hours later, that the municipality had added a last minute 25-page Forestry Advisory Committee report to the agenda for the council meeting the next day, to decide about harvesting of the windfall, we were, to say the least, disappointed. Twenty-five pages at the last moment, with no effort to alert the public, feels like a flawed process.
On Wednesday, a few hours after the public assembly, with no public attendance, council was put in a position of having to rush through a decision about the blow down. WDWS has sent a letter to council with concerns expressed by citizens sharing through WDWS about the following issues:
One, there was inadequate time for the public and council to be made aware of the blow down item on the council agenda, therefore there was no public participation.
Two, it appears there was not enough time for council to assimilate the 25-page FAC report. Furthermore, the report does not seem to reflect the broad range of ecological concerns presented by two new FAC members appointed to balance the conventional/commercial logging perspective.
Three, the public and council deserve the opportunity to hear from experts from an ecological and ecosystem-based forestry background about the need for an ecological assessment of the harvest.
Council has demonstrated its commitment to public participation. We are pausing to hear and understand where they stand.
Where Do We Stand