Frustration is high in Cherryville now that work has started on a contentious logging road.
A contractor for B.C. Timber Sales began moving equipment on to Cherry Ridge Monday despite concerns from residents that the road and logging could trigger slides.
“It’s very disappointing. We’re not being heard,” said Eugene Foisy, outgoing regional district director for Cherryville.
“It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the provincial government won’t listen to its constituents. It’s bullying.”
Foisy says the community is not opposed to logging but it wants assurances harvesting will be done safely.
“We’re not asking for the moon. We’re just asking for time,” he said of the community’s willingness to fund a watershed assessment.
There were reports Monday that the RCMP escorted the contractor to the site.
However, Cpl. Henry Proce, with the Lumby RCMP, says there was no request from BCTS or the contractor for police assistance and he decided voluntarily to visit the site when he heard equipment was being moved in.
“I patrolled up there to make sure everything was calm and it was,” he said.
Cherryville’s next steps to protest the road are being considered, including political pressure.
“We will look at legal options. We have approached West Coast Environmental Law,” said Hank Cameron, incoming regional director.
While residents blocked the contractor in November, Cameron isn’t sure if such a situation may arise this time around.
“It’s up to individuals to decide what action they will take. As a group, we can’t tell anyone to do anything that would lead them to jail,” he said.
According to BCTS, it contracts road construction independent of timber sales to provide certainty for potential bidders that access to timber is available.
“BCTS has completed third-party professional assessments on terrain stability and hydrology, and have had the road professionally designed. BCTS is satisfied that these plans are appropriate to address all of the values,” it states.
“If the community is unsatisfied and wants to complete other assessments to evaluate their own interests, then they can do those assessments. BCTS will evaluate all professional information provided as BCTS has indicated to the community on many occasions.”
BCTS says it’s willing to meet with residents to discuss specific concerns or future plans for the area.
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, defends the actions of BCTS.
“The feeling of the engineers who did the original assessment is solid,” he said.
On Monday, Coldstream council asked the government to place a moratorium on road construction until Cherryville can conduct a watershed assessment.
“It’s not an unreasonable request for an assessment of the watershed,” said Jim Garlick, Coldstream mayor.