There’s definitely a disconnect between Cherryville residents and B.C. Timber Sales.
On Thursday, about 55 people made their way up on to Cherry Ridge to peacefully stop crews contracted by BCTS, a provincial agency, to construct a road so logging can occur.
“We want to create attention that B.C. Timber Sales is not listening to our concerns,” said resident Carla Vierke of the fear that logging could trigger landslides that threaten the community below.
And yet if you listen to BCTS, it insists that full consultation with Cherryville has occurred.
“We’re happy to continue the dialogue as we develop the cut blocks,” said Colin Johnston, woodlands supervisor.
BCTS also states that meetings have been held with the Cherry Ridge Management Committee, which operates a community forest, and hydrological assessments have been provided to the Regional District of North Okanagan.
A major sore point for residents is that BCTS is proceeding with road construction despite RDNO not initiating a risk assessment of logging on the slope.
Road construction crews were turned away by protesters Thursday morning, but it’s not likely BCTS is going to abandon the project as it has a mandate to utilize the province’s natural resources to create revenue for the government. Will residents continue to prevent construction and if BCTS remains firm, will emotions ramp up?
What is needed is for both sides to sit down and determine if middle ground can be found that allows some level of harvesting to occur while community concerns are addressed.
And if a mediator is needed, the best choice is MLA Eric Foster, who has a forestry background, understands government and has the respect of many Cherryville residents.