B.C. Supreme Court reserves decision on Fairy Creek logging blockades

The B.C. Supreme Court has reserved its decision until Thursday on an injunction application by logging company Teal Jones Group to remove protesters and blockades from its logging operations near Port Renfrew.

The court heard arguments from both sides on Thursday and Friday.

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In its application, Teal Jones asked for the removal of an eight-month blockade and authorization to arrest anyone impeding workers and equipment.

Protesters say they are protecting one of the last pristine watersheds on southern Vancouver Island from the chainsaws.

They have been blocking access to the Fairy Creek area since August 2020, stopping Teal Jones Group from building a road into its planned cut block in Tree Forest Licence 46.

Teal Jones Group wants access to the area to log about 200 hectares of a ridge line above a protected valley, but protesters claim logging will trigger erosion and a ripple effect that will destroy the watershed and trees estimated to be up to 1,000 years old.

Rainforest Flying Squad, the group behind the blockades, argued in court the public interest is best served by the preservation of old-growth forests.

“We respect [the justice] for taking time to hear our arguments,” said Kathleen Code, spokeswoman for the group.

In an emailed statement late Friday, Teal Jones said the company has a decades-long history of responsible forest management and value-added manufacturing in B.C.

“Our work on this tree farm licence will be done in a way consistent with our values of sustainable forest management,” said Gerrie Kotze, vice-president and chief financial officer. “We will mill every log cut right here in B.C., making wood products we all rely on every day.”

Kotze said while the Fairy Creek Watershed is almost 1,200 hectares, only about 200 hectares is available for harvesting, subject to government regulations and First Nation engagement. The rest is either protected forest reserve or on unstable terrain not suitable for harvesting, he said. “Teal Jones is committed to harvesting with the care and attention to the environment and resources consistent with the expectations of British Columbians.”

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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