Beddis logging alarms residents

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Residents of the Sky Valley Road and Beddis Road area are demanding action to stop a major logging operation taking place outside their back doors.

Work to clear trees from the majority of a privately owned 45-acre Beddis Road property began a few weeks ago. Although a portion of the land is within a development permit area for soil erosion hazards, the trees covering nearly 40 acres are scheduled to come down.

Peter McAllister and his wife Bernadette Mertens-McAllister live on a Sky Valley Road property that backs onto the contested site, which is split zoned into agriculture and rural zones. Together with Jean Wilkinson, they have collected over 200 signatures from people in their neighbourhood and all over the island who are asking the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee to step in.

“People are really up in arms. It’s becoming a real serious issue,” said McAllister, who is a veteran of the Clayoquot Sound and Carmanah anti-logging campaigns. “People have been pounding on the doors of the Islands Trust for years asking them to establish some rules around responsible forestry, but nothing has been done.”

The property, formerly owned by long-time resident and farmer Mike Larmour, who died in December of 2016, was sold to island resident Gary Stunder on Aug. 28.

Local trustee Peter Grove has spoken to logging contractor Scott Royal, who said the property development was a partnership between himself and the registered owner. Grove recently visited the site along with incoming officials, trustee Laura Patrick and CRD director Gary Holman. Grove’s information is that logging is planned for the entire property except the DPA area, and will be cleaned up in a professional manner. Neither Royal nor Stunder could be reached before presstime on Tuesday to confirm their plans.

“Clear-cutting is an ugly business. We have seen plenty of it on the island over the years,” Grove said. “Every farm and open space was once forest. In time the land will heal, but it is still hard to take.”

While Grove intends to bring the general issue to the LTC and to Islands Trust Council, he said there is little to be done in this case. Word from administration staff and bylaw enforcement is that land clearing is a lawful use under the Beddis property’s zoning.

According to Islands Trust mapping, several ecosystems are recorded on the land in question.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 7, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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