Minister Michelle Mungall attended a community meeting about the Ymir watershed before she was successfully re-elected earlier this year. According to her, she continues to advocate on their behalf. Photo: Will Johnson

Minister Michelle Mungall attended a community meeting about the Ymir watershed before she was successfully re-elected earlier this year. According to her, she continues to advocate on their behalf. Photo: Will Johnson

Ymir watershed delegation headed to Victoria

Water advocates hope to sway Minister Doug Donaldson

The latest hydrology report for the Quartz Creek area, a document that some believe could significantly affect the decision-making around proposed logging in the Ymir watershed, is nearing completion and will be made public soon.

The report is the first of three ordered by BC Timber Sales (BCTS) following accusations that their original findings were incomplete and didn’t accurately portray the fragility of the community’s collection pond, which is situated near one of their proposed cut blocks.

“BCTS wants to re-assure everyone that we are listening to the concerns brought forward and other than hydrological work, we have not started work on the ground,” BCTS’ timber sales manager Russ Laroche told the Star.

“The main fact we want to keep reiterating is that we’re still in the information-gathering phase. There are people putting us down for not doing things properly, for not listening to them and their concerns, but so far all we’ve been doing is listening.”

That being said, they weren’t at a recent RDCK meeting in which regional directors discussed watershed harvesting with members of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association (ILMA) because they weren’t invited — according to Laroche, they would’ve gladly joined if they had been.

A meeting between BCTS and the Ymir Watershed Action Team is in the works.

Mungall: ‘Still opposed to bad decision-making’

Earlier this year Minister Michelle Mungall attended a Ymir community meeting and promised to help pressure the provincial government to “undo their mistake.”

In the meantime Mungall’s been re-elected, moving from opposition into power under Premier John Horgan, and she’s taken on a new role as Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources — a position that puts her in charge of, among other things, choosing whether to move forward with Site C.

At the time of the meeting, Mungall compared Ymir’s fight to the Jumbo Wild campaign, saying “we need butts on logging roads,” and vowed to advocate on their behalf. But now she’s in a very different position as a representative of the government tasked with harvesting the trees.

So how does that change things for her?

According to Mungall, not at all. She’s made contact with rural representative Hans Cunningham and the minister who’s now in charge of the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), Doug Donaldson, to express the community’s concerns.

She echoed the community’s sentiment that she’s not anti-logging, she’s just “opposed to bad decision-making.”

Reached this week by the Star, Mungall said “nothing has changed from the day I started working on this issue.”

“I’ve had conversations with Minister Donaldson and we’re working with FLNRO to make sure we have good decision-making — which the community didn’t feel the ministry had before,” she said.

She’s inviting residents to continue to share their views with her.

“We’re going to make sure we’re well-informed on this watershed and how it operates to make sure people have clean drinking water.”

BCTS: ‘We’re a science-driven organization’

The political realities surrounding the Ymir watershed are constantly evolving, but Laroche is trying to focus on the facts on the ground — leaving the politics to Mungall, Donaldson and the rest of the provincial government.

“We are a government entity and we take direction from our minister and our ministry, but we’re a science-driven organization and we’re professionals committed to getting the best information,” he said.

Taking into consideration information gathered from stakeholders and the legislation that applies to watershed harvesting, Laroche confirmed the collection pond that’s become the visual symbol of the controversy will still have trees and vegetation surrounding it.

“There’s a legislated minimum, and to be very clear: when those blocks are put on paper they’re just to show the areas we’re looking at. The final boundaries will be based on the information we gather,” he said.

“There will be no logging right adjacent to the collection pond and intake.”

BCTS will also take other concerns into mind when moving forward, including protecting the community from forest fire, and Laroche said the proposed logging area closest to the collection pond will not be “a standard block.”

Ymir delegation headed to Victoria

Ymir spokesperson Jason Leus is travelling to Victoria on Oct. 23 with Lower Kootenay Band councillor Jared Basil to meet with Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau — and they’re hoping to enlist her support. They have spoken to her office and learned she is enthusiastic about learning more about their situation.

“We’re super encouraged by the Lower Kootenay Band’s continuing support of the Ymir position, as our community is located in their traditional territory,” Leus said.

“We’re hoping for a sympathetic ear in the form of Sonia Furstenau — who got into politics as a result of her own community watershed struggle.”

Meanwhile their regional director Hans Cunningham has met face-to-face with Donaldson during the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference last week. Leus is buoyed by all this momentum, but still concerned that the “process is so heavily weighted towards industry.”

According to him, Mungall has “changed her tune” since becoming elected.

“Michelle’s advice to us pre-election to post-election changed. First she was encouraging us to be as active as possible, and currently she is counselling us to be patient and let the process take it’s course — it’s a bit concerning.”

He said “my fondest hope is that Michelle will continue to be a champion for values held so dearly by Kootenay residents, namely in this case water security.”

Leus doesn’t plan to follow her advice.

“The Ymir Watershed Action Team will not remain idle.”

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

 

Ymir watershed delegation headed to Victoria

Just Posted

A mushroom grower plans to plan new mushrooms in fallen trees in the Kaslo Community Forest. File photo
Kaslo mushroom farmer given green light for unique project

Robin Mercy will plant mushrooms in the Kaslo Community Forest

Nelson dancers Glynis Waring, Slava Doval and Amanda Papailhou, and musician Nella Banner, premier Respired on April 11. Photo: Submitted
New dance work the latest online offering from Capitol Theatre

Local performers will unveil Respired beginning April 11

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read