‘Epic waste of time’: View Royal fire chief angry at old-growth logging protest that required emergency crews

‘Epic waste of time’: View Royal fire chief angry at old-growth logging protest that required emergency crews

In the morning commute, you couldn’t miss them. Two protesters went to great heights on Thursday to protect tall trees, but it was the lengths to which first responders had to go that had View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst fuming.

“This is what we would call an epic waste of our time,” he said.

Sometime overnight, two men unfurled a banner between two trees high above the Trans-Canada Highway near Thetis Lake that read, “Walbran Forever.”

They set up a platform in one of the trees where they sat in protest of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. Will O’Connell and Hugo Lefrancois say they’re not affiliated with any particular organization.

“We’re just individuals who care about the last ancient forests,” said O’Connell. The banner is in reference to a temporary old-growth logging deferral in the Walbran Valley that expired in March.

“So basically logging can resume as usual,” said Lefrancois.

Westshore RCMP responded first, followed by View Royal Fire.

“I’ve got a ladder truck here that’s supposed to be protecting people from fire, but we’re cutting protesters down from a tree in a CRD park,” said the fire chief.

Hurst says the Colwood and Langford fire departments responded to View Royal’s emergency calls while they were there. Deploying the View Royal ladder truck meant blocking off two of the northbound lanes on the Trans-Canada Highway, which slowed traffic nearly to the McKenzie interchange.

The protesters came down from the platform at 12:05 p.m. No arrests were made, but a CRD spokesperson tells CHEK news that fines could be considered, pending a review of the file.

For Hurst, it’s not just a matter of resources, but consideration.

“They can have their protest, but they don’t think about the things that are happening in the rest of the world and the rest of the community,” he said.

O’Connell and Lefrancois had planned to take the platform and banner down themselves, and didn’t expect the police and fire response. They left the area on foot, but not before a lengthy discussion with Hurst.

“He pointed out they’re volunteer firefighters who were called in like it’s an emergency and had to respond to it,” said O’Connell. “Also withdrawing resources from other areas. We honestly did not anticipate this, and had we, I don’t know that we would have done it.”

READ ALSO: ‘I’m ready for jail’: Fairy Creek protester and Green Party deputy leader awaits sentence

Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!