A small crowd gathered on the grounds of the B.C. Legislature on Tuesday morning demanding more action from the provincial government to stop logging of old-growth forests.
While the demonstration was quiet and peaceful, another group is threatening more disruptive action if the NDP doesn’t do more.
“We have a broken relationship with the natural world that desperately needs to be restored,” said Andrea Inness of Ancient Forest Alliance, one of the speakers of the event.
Currently, the provincial government has committed to halting the logging of 2.6 million hectares of old-growth, and is working with First Nations to develop a new plan for sustainable forest management.
In the statement, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said, “we’re working with First Nations that want to move forward on immediate deferrals, continuing to engage with Nations who want more time or to talk through other processes, and continuing to reach out to Nations that haven’t responded.”
“We will support people and communities affected by upcoming temporary old-growth deferrals through a comprehensive suite of supports. We are committed to working in collaboration with First Nations, local communities, and industry to ensure we get this right,” the statement read.
It’s also promising about $12 million over three years to support First Nations through the process, but Inness says this isn’t enough.
“They haven’t committed the necessary funding to make that happen. So, these are empty promises that will come to nothing. So, we need to see, just like the Great Bear Rainforest, a significant conservation financing commitment from the government this budget,” she said.
“Asking them to respond to these requests without providing them with any kind of support to assist them in their analysis and planning is not a respectful and responsible way to go,” added Andy MacKinnon, a forest ecologist and Metchosin councillor.
They’re calling on the B.C. government to increase their funding to at least $300 million to support those most impacted by the old-growth forests deferrals.
While they acknowledge it is a lot of money, they said it’s imperative that the province provide more financial support.
“The impact of this is going to cost us far more than it would cost us to protect these ecosystems,” said Adam Olsen, the Green Party MLA for Saanich.
“When you take a look at the impact of floods and the impact of climate change on our province just this year, it’s going to cost us hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars to repair just from one or two storm seasons,” he continued.
The B.C. government said that in February, it will introduce Budget 2022 “which will continue to be responsive to the needs of people, businesses, and communities to see them through the pandemic and into a strong economic recovery that supports all British Columbians.”
Tuesday’s quiet demonstration was nothing compared to what has happened in the past with some groups taking more extreme measures to drive their point home, including shutting down the Patricia Bay Highway for hours.
The “Save Old Growth” civil resistance movement announced on Tuesday it will “begin a campaign of continuous disruption of the Trans Canada Highway” starting on January 10th if the government does not end all active old-growth logging.
“It really is unfortunate that we have to do this. And it’s regrettable that we do have to stop people that are just trying to provide for themselves and their families. They’re not the people destroying our world. It’s the people that employ them that are,” said Brent Eichler, an activist who is part of the movement.
“It is regrettable, but history shows us that this is the way to win,” he added.
He said they’ll be attempting to shut down the highway around the province, including on the island three times a week throughout the month.