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Interface Planning Casebook - Case File 4 > Casebook > Valley Vision

Valley Vision | towards a comprehensive vision for the future of the Bulkley Valley

Interface Planning Casebook - Case File 4

Also in the central Bulkley Valley, British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS) foresters carried out an auction of a timber block bordering on large parcels of private land in the settlement zone. They consulted with Ministry of Environment staff but not with local residents. Implications for local residents included road safety hazards on account of thousands of truckloads of timber being hauled out on residential roads; danger from fire (ultimately severe enough for much of the logging to be done at night); noise, dust, smoke, and trespass nuisances; unknown but probably large impacts on hedonic prices of real estate; severe degradation of local landscapes; and anxiety over democratic disempowerment. When local residents complained to the Ministry of Forests and BCTS, Ministry staff seemed surprised at the notion of public participation in their planning process and clearly regarded public concerns as frivolous (though the provincial Forest Ombudsman did not). After logging was complete, the contractor collected the slash into a hundred or more huge brush piles. Residents inquired of BCTS whether the intention was to burn the brush piles but could obtain no clear answer from BCTS because under the Forest Practices Code responsibility for dealing with waste wood resides in the contractor. At present, under the B.C. Open Burning Regulation, burning is permitted to within about 100 metres of an occupied residence. Under the draft new Open Burning Regulation, burning would not be permitted within ten kilometres of settled areas, and especially not in sensitive airsheds. The brush piles are two kilometres or less from Telkwa and less than ten kilometres from Smithers, in an area mapped as having a sensitive airshed. Local medical authorities described the burning of the brush piles as potentially a “massive public health disaster.” In British Columbia, logging plans are not subject to environmental assessment. According to unconfirmed reports, the contractor barely cleared a profit from the timber harvest – certainly far less profit than could warrant the huge costs of this sale to the public.

Class of Problem

One element in the problem here is the exclusion of public participation from forest harvest planning in the Interface at any meaningful scale. Another element is the lack of consideration for public health impacts from forestry in the Interface, for hedonic pricing impacts, for amenity migration impacts, tourism impacts, and so on.

Potential Solutions

Interface forestry should be conducted differently from forestry in Crown lands farther from settlement. Local residents should have an opportunity to participate in the planning, or at least to voice their concerns, at an early stage. Forestry planning for the Interface should include respect for the opportunity costs of harm to amenity migration and tourism, which in the case just described could easily have amounted to tens of times the value of the timber.

Planning principles at stake

(3), (4), (6), (8), (10), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), (25), (26), (28), (30), and (33)
Refer to Planning Principles

Contributor

R. Chipeniuk

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