Residents of the North Shore around Duhamel Creek are concerned that now-approved logging above their homes could lead to a landslide due to existing high risks.
Kalesnikoff Lumber has been given the go-ahead to start building a road for logging on a lower slope that’s unstable, says Glen B. Jones, 78, who’s worked most of his life in the forest industry and has lived in the Duhamel Creek area for almost 40 years.
“The people who live below are asking, begging them not to do it,” says Jones.
More than 100 residents have signed a petition about activity above their homes. Concerns exist because the slope is about 70 per cent grade and the soil is sandy in nature.
“When you start cutting a road in something like this, there is going to be sloughing,” says Jones.
Along with resident Lee Rushton, Jones points to a history of slides in the area prior to logging activity.
They said there have been seven minor slides in the area in the last 13 years. In 1956 there was a larger slide that washed out the Duhamel Creek bridge on Highway 3A.
Duhamel Creek is a fast running waterway, they say pointing to records showing runoff at 13.65 cubic meters per second on June 6, 2012. If the creek is blocked by debris, it could be destructive, says Jones.
“If there is a slide, it’s going to come down with such devastating power that nobody will be able to get out of the way,” he says.
Adds Rushton, “There’s going to be a major slide, an absolutely major slide.”
Duhamel Creek runs through a densely populated area with about 400 homes in the affected area. In light of other recent slides due to Mother Nature, Jones worries about who will be responsible for compensating residents when insurance doesn’t cover this kind of disaster.
“It’s about the safety of our people,” says Jones. “What if something happens and the road fails, they’re not responsible.”
Garth Wiggill, regional district manager with the Ministry of Forests, says Kalesnikoff would be primarily responsible for any issues associated with a landslide if it can be attributed to logging operations.
“Many of our drainages also incur natural landslides as well that need to be considered,” says Wiggill. “Depending on severity and impacts of a slide, the ministry and other agencies, like Emergency Management BC investigate and respond to slides if and when they occur.”
Wiggill says the licensee has conducted a full terrain stability field assessment which was peer reviewed by the ministry geomorphologist.
“As with all forest stewardship plans, the company needed to show how it addressed comments received during the public review and comment process, before submitting to government for approval,” he says.
There are still logs to come off the mountainside and this can happen effectively, says the local forester.
“There remains productive timber harvesting land base within our many community watersheds and many successful harvesting operations have been carried out within these community watersheds,” says Wiggill.
Residents are frustrated at the runaround. While Jones and Rushton understand that Kalesnikoff Lumber of Thrums has met all of its obligations to get the go ahead, they are upset at government inaction. They say a complaint filed with Forest Practices Board, the independent body overseeing logging practices, has not been cleared from the case.
Wiggill says otherwise. “In 2012, the Forest Practices Board, an independent watchdog, investigated Kalesnikoff’s Duhamel logging plans prior to the road permit and cutting permit being issued,” he says.
The duo from Duhamel want to see the geotechnical report completed for the Ministry of Forests that says the land is workable despite their concerns. They are asking for a public meeting and vow to put a stop to any road building in the area.
Rushton says they will put up a blockade, something usually done by environmentalists rather than the average senior.
“If you were worried about your own safety would you do something about it?”