Concerns about private land logging in Area G were prompted by work in a neighbouring area near Cottonwood Lake. The privately owned land on the slope behind the lake is slated for harvesting. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Salmo area mulls rules for private land logging

Guidelines may become part of rural land use plan

A land use plan for rural Salmo has been adopted by the Regional District of Central Kootenay board, without a controversial section that has been deferred to a later date.

Section 18 of the Area G land use bylaw is an attempt to regulate private land logging, but needs more work, says the area’s representative, Hans Cunningham.

“The basic idea of having some control over private land logging is good,” Cunningham told the Star, “but we pulled it from the bylaw and will deal with it separately, and have a public hearing to include it in the bylaw.”

Area G encompasses the communities of Hall Siding, Ymir, Ross Spur, Airport Road, Erie, Porto Rico, Nelway and Salmo North.

Cunningham said he had obtained a copy of a private land logging bylaw from the Islands Trust to use as a template, but its provisions would have to be discussed and adapted further for it to be a useful model locally.

Former Nelson mayor John Dooley, who works for the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association as a liaison to local governments, told the Star the organization went to a public hearing on the bylaw in Salmo and raised concerns about some details of the private logging section and the fact it appeared at the last minute in the process.

“The real issue for most people,” Dooley said, “was that there was very little consultation with the industry. In fact there was none. Nobody reached out to anyone in the sector, or to land owners who may have been wanting to harvest timber on their land.”

The land use bylaw contains a new Official Community Plan for the Salmo River Valley and covers a wide range of guidelines and zoning related to residential building, commercial building, community services, agriculture, parks, recreation, mineral resources, fire management, transportation, and energy.

Cunningham said it’s taken four years and has had to take many opinions into account.

“The more rural they are the less planning they want,” he said. “Area G is made up of dozens of little communities and each has their own ideas about what they want. So the bylaw was written all-inclusive and the idea is to make as many people happy as we can.”

The addition of provisions comes on the heels of contentious logging on private land adjacent to Cottonwood Lake Park. Cunningham said although the park is not within his area, concerned residents who pass by it wanted something in the bylaw to address the issue.

The RDCK is also taking a resolution to the September conference of the Union of BC Municipalities, asking that body to lobby the forest ministry to develop regulations for the harvesting of private land measuring more than four hectares.

The West Kootenay Ecosociety has so far received 1,000 signatures on an online petition asking the province to regulate logging on private land.

Related: RDCK wants province to regulate private land logging

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