Freedom of information denied in Cherryville

Ministry of Forests won't provide reports into 2012 slide on Sugar Lake Road

Cherryville residents insist a bureaucratic blockage is preventing them from knowing what caused the earth to move.

The Ministry of Forests has denied a freedom of information request to have documents released regarding a 2012 slide on Sugar Lake Road, which came close to a home.

“They have a bunch of excuses that don’t mean a lot to me,” said Eugene Foisy, a former electoral area director.

“To say the file is now closed is not democracy. It’s pretty disheartening.”

The ministry denied access to the report based on legislation, including legal advice, disclosure harmful to law enforcement, disclosure harmful to financial or economic interests of a public body and disclosure harmful to person privacy.

“It’s an abrupt reversal of a letter a month earlier that said they would reopen the file,” said Hank Cameron, the current electoral area director.

The government is supposed to protect private land owners and public assets.”

The 2012 slide was about 800 metres long and 10 metres wide. The flow of debris shifted about 200 feet before it would have collided with Joel Hriczu’s home.

Residents are demanding the 2012 report because there is a concern further logging on Cherry Ridge could lead to more slope instability.

“If there is no issue, tell us, and if there is an issue, tell us and we can try to prevent it in the future,” said Foisy.

Next steps to get the report are being taken by the community, including asking B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner to review the ministry’s decision.

“We will also consult with professionals advising us and there are conversations at the political level,” said Cameron.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, says he’s investigating the denial of the FOI request.

“I have a call into the ministry to find out why the decision was made,” he said.