Ymir mobilizes against logging plan

Ymir mobilizes against logging plan

Multi-pronged approach to protect area backed by Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall

It seems like somebody made a mistake.

That’s how Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall feels about B.C. Timber Sales’ proposed plan to log the Ymir watershed. And during a community meeting on Tuesday evening, she pledged to support residents’ efforts to oppose the project.

“Right when you first did the tour of the watershed, I thought this must be a mistake somewhere in the bureaucracy,” the newly re-elected politician told the gathering.

“You have to give the government a reason to undo their mistake.”

As things stand now, B.C. Timber Sales (BCTS) is in the planning stages of a long-term project to create three cut-blocks in a Crown land area that includes Ymir’s collection pond and water treatment facility. Residents are concerned their water supply could be disrupted or contaminated.

An upcoming legally mandated 60-day consultation period, from June 15 to August 15, will give residents the opportunity to express their concerns, after which the cutting boundaries could potentially be moved. (The Star attempted to contact B.C. Timber Sales by email and phone, but they did not respond in time for press deadline.)

And the residents of Ymir are mobilizing to make sure their watershed remains untouched.

‘Don’t pick a fight with the Kootenays’

Jason Leus is feeling optimistic.

On Monday afternoon, the primary spokesperson for the Ymir Community Watershed Action Team (YCWAT) met with BCTS representatives. He spent two and a half hours discussing the hydrology report the company had produced and the sensitivity of the environment around the collection pond.

Another issue that has been raised by the community is the insurance implications of potentially leaving Ymir without water to fight forest fires.

“BCTS has assured us they’re in a planning stage, and it was learned they’re willing to modify their cutting,” Leus said, noting that the company is unwilling to visit Ymir and talk to the community in person for fear of “being lynched.”

But he wants to keep things cordial.

“We’re pro-responsible logging, but against bad decision-making.”

Mungall attended the meeting, and was in fighting form as she praised the community for their chutzpah.

“The argument that this is a community watershed is the strongest argument you’ve got, and it’s enough to build a foundation on,” she said.

“One of the things I always bring up when I meet with various government ministries, my line is ‘Don’t pick a fight with the Kootenays, because we’re going to fight back and we’re going to win’. We have a long history of that.”

She asked, “How far is the community willing to go?”

“We need butts on logging roads. People need to be willing to go there and do that. I’m going to work hard to make sure we don’t get to that point, but that’s what you need to be willing to do.”

Ymir’s multi-pronged mobilization

Mungall noted that she’s been involved in similar logging disputes at Glacier and Howser creeks during her time as MLA, and told the crowd her staff is currently researching the issue and trying to find a “win-win solution.”

That work is being supported by Hans Cunningham, the elected representative for the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Area G, who pledged to match any money raised with funds from his government’s coffers and introduced a motion on the subject at a Thursday RDCK meeting.

One way to bring progress grinding to a halt? Identifying an endangered (or “red -listed”) species in the habitat, whether it’s an invertebrate or a mushroom or a bird.

“If we find one red-listed species, we’re pretty much saved,” said Leus.

To that end, YCWAT is organizing a community hike on Sunday in which residents will be encouraged to document “anything that moves and breathes,” and offering a $500 reward for anyone who successfully identifies an endangered species that currently lives within the watershed.

And that’s just the beginning — they’re also investigating whether local First Nations bands have significant archaeological sites nearby, working to get their hiking trails recognized and protected, as well as calling for a more thorough hydrology report than the one produced by BCTS.

Mungall encouraged residents to contact their friends in Salmo and Nelson, to bring regional awareness to the issue, and theorized that the West Kootenay Ecosociety would be keen to get involved. Leus noted that they’ve already been invited to join the All Kootenays Watershed Association, a larger scale organization.

“We’ve got a lot of solidarity, so that bodes well for the future,” he said.

Festival considers implications

So what about Tiny Lights?

The annual festival is coming up in the next few weeks, and directors Shawn and Carla Stephenson asked the meeting what role it should have in this dispute — should they be concerned about their artists writing protest songs or being outspoken on the subject?

The answer they received: “let the dogs off the leash”.

Already the community has created T-shirts that are for sale in the Ymir store for $10, and though the official 60-day consultation period doesn’t begin until June 15, residents have already been flooding the government with letters and emails.

“Every meeting I go to, they mention they’ve been getting letters,” said Leus.

“So keep writing them, because they’re having the desired effect.”

Ultimately, he said, his goal is to be able to welcome BCTS representatives into the community with “a handshake and a hug” — but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to budge. In answer to a fellow resident who expressed vehement opposition to the project, Leus assured him that he’s on the same page.

“If in the end it comes down to blocking the road, I’m going to be right there with the rest of you.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall offered her support to the Ymir community during a meeting on Tuesday evening, as they prepare to fight B.C. Timber Sales’ plans to log in their watershed. Photo: Will Johnson

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall offered her support to the Ymir community during a meeting on Tuesday evening, as they prepare to fight B.C. Timber Sales’ plans to log in their watershed. Photo: Will Johnson

Ymir mobilizes against logging plan

Just Posted

Paul Chung is working as an early childhood educator at Cornerstone Children’s Centre in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Immigration pilot targets hard-to-fill jobs in West Kootenay

Program helps newcomers get permanent residency status in rural areas

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Castlegar doctor answers common vaccine questions Part 2

Family physician Megan Taylor answers common vaccine questions

Public opposition to a planned road was expressed on posters on the hiking trails above the Nelson cemetery. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Logging company abandons road construction planned near Nelson hiking trails

RDCK, public, and transportation ministry opposed the road

A concept of the new Kaslo Bridge, which is expected to be complete by November. Illustration: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Kaslo Bridge to be replaced

Construction on the $6.19-million project begins this month

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read