Viewpoint: Trust needs better tools

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By DIANNE HAYWARD AND MARTEN KEASHLY

The following was sent to islands trustees Peter Luckham, Laura Patrick and Peter Grove, MLA Adam Olsen and MP Elizabeth May.

We’re writing as very concerned and frankly very angry homeowners on Morningside Road wherein two parcels of land butting up against Reginald Hill are being clear-cut. It was suggested we write this letter of concern by an Islands Trust bylaw officer to concerned parties as a further example of the ongoing and indiscriminate clear-cutting of forests on this island.

These two clear-cut lots border the CRD trail going up to Reginald Hill. It is a hiking trail used by locals and tourists, and this is what they are left to view — totally clear-cut land. It looks like a dystopia. For an island that relies on tourism as a major source of income, and for an island that supposedly prides itself as environmentally conscious, this is a disgrace and a tragedy.

The island has vastly changed in terms of density, and our acts such as the provincial Forest Act and the regulatory tools available to the Islands Trust don’t reflect this reality and are out of date. Nor do the acts and regulations reflect the new climate concerns on the islands. Ultimately the act and resultant lack of tools support individuals who continue to act in their own interests with no thought to the impact on the neighbours, to the destruction of our environment and to our safety.

Our quality of life is continuing to be impacted by this operation. It is difficult to go outside with fires burning, and the sound of excavation and the downing of trees. This has been ongoing for over six weeks and still continues. This past Saturday on a very windy day, the burning continued despite the risk to adjacent homes of sparks igniting their properties. The fire department was called out of fear for surrounding properties. And yet as property owners, we seem to have no rights; we cannot protect the value of our properties, our safety, or the quality of our life.

We read and hear that the Trust does not feel they have the regulatory tools by which to act on this issue. And we appreciate the fact that Laura Patrick and Peter Grove have raised their concerns around logging on private lands at the Trust council meetings. But surely, there can be pressure put on the provincial government by the Islands Trust to institute a moratorium on logging on private lands for timber sales. Then new bylaws, development permits and appropriate regulatory tools for the Trust can be brought into place that reflect our population density and new climate reality.

Of course, all of this begs the question of where is Adam Olsen? We have heard nothing from our MLA, a Green Party representative. They say politics is local and it’s time we heard from the Greens as to exactly what they are doing on our behalf relative to this issue.

The Islands Trust has declared a climate emergency and we’re still allowing wholesale burning and destruction of our forests. The province needs to give the Islands Trust the tools “to preserve and protect the Trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the Trust area and of B.C. generally.”

Such a beautiful place to live, but for us, one that is being ruined by a lack of appropriate laws and regulations.

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