Cherryville residents are considering their options to block a contentious logging road.
Community representatives have been told by B.C. Timber Sales, a provincial agency, that construction of a logging road will proceed on Cherry Ridge despite residents’ concerns about potential slides.
“The community is rallying,” said Eugene Foisy, electoral area director, adding that beyond a meeting with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, he’s not sure what steps residents may take to stop the road.
Last month, residents prevented the road contractor from entering the area.
Foisy had hoped BCTS would hold off on construction so the community could proceed with a study looking at soil and hydrological conditions.
“They may be right and maybe there is no issue but the community is concerned and it has data BCTS doesn’t have such as snowpack,” he said.
“It would be a waste of money if they put a $450,000 road in and the study says the road shouldn’t be there. What are they afraid of?”
Foisy says there have been previous slides right down to Cherry Creek.
“There’s a real concern. We’re not just trying to hug trees,” he said.
“A lot of these people in the community are loggers and they are concerned.”
Foisy is also upset that BCTS will not conduct a public meeting.
“I think it was pretty small of them,” he said.
Hank Cameron, who will soon take over as director from a retiring Foisy, is frustrated with BCTS’ response.
“We warned BCTS of the unstable soils and landslide history in the North Fork and Currie Creek drainages but they intend to proceed anyway, without soil tests or local input,” he said.
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, has been part of the discussions between Cherryville residents and BCTS.
“The forest service has done its due diligence. Professionals have done slide assessments and hydrology reports,” said Foster, adding that the community can still proceed with a study.
“If they come up with science that discounts the science that is there now, it will be considered.”
BCTS officials aren’t sure when road construction could begin.
“It’s in the hands of our contractor,” said Colin Johnston, woodlands supervisor.
Johnston says there is no need to hold off on the project so a community study can be done.
“If we felt there was an error in our assessment, we would look at this. But our assessment was done by an independent professional,” he said.
“We can only follow the guidance of our professional.”
Johnston also defends not having a public meeting.
“We have heard the sentiment and tried to include those in our plan. We deferred a (harvest) block because of those concerns,” he said.