Wednesday, October 22, 2008


On a recent walk around Labour Day Lake, I was enchanted by the mycological world that erupts with the return of the rains. I spent the entire day examining mushrooms with a wide range of colours: bright yellow, orange, red, dull purple, green, white, and every variation of brown. Some were so tiny they made the evergreen needles look big, while others were the size of soccer balls. They grew on rotting logs, amongst the evergreen needles, and high up on dying trees. Some looked extremely delicate and others hard shelled.

I particularly enjoy hiking at this time of year because of the profusion of life that comes out of death. Decaying wood and the thick layers of humus that have accumulated over the years, forming a rich forest floor, dotted with a diversity of mushrooms. I have only seen such an abundance of mushrooms in old growth forests where centuries of vegetable matter decaying into soil provides a lush environment for fungi.

Mushrooms that appear on a wide variety of surfaces in the forest are actually the fruiting bodies of fungi, which for the most part are hidden below the surface and can stretch out for great distances. They are an indication of a healthy and vibrant forest ecosystem. Water is purified through soil, which is stabilized by tree root systems, that live in a semiotic relationship with fungi.

Labour Day Lake is the main water source for the Cameron River, which flows into Cameron Lake at Cathedral Grove and then into the Little Qualicum River. This water becomes the drinking water source for Whiskey Creek and the Town of Qualicum Beach. Human Resources Development Canada invested in the recreation site around Labour Day Lake by hiring out-of-work forestry workers to build trails around this sub-alpine lake.

Island Timberlands owns the land around Labour Day Lake and has plans to log this old growth forest in the near future. In 2005 a Federal court ruling stated that the BC Liberal government must have meaningful negotiations with Hupacasath First Nation before Island Timberlands could privatize 70,300 hectares of forestland in TFL 44. The deal went through anyway and now the land is being logged with no regards for the public or the environment.

Public drinking water is being threatened from many different angles including: logging, mining, residential developments, insecticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, sewage, ditching of roadways, farming, golf courses, and wetland diversions. At some point the interest of water protection must come first. Private land owners cannot be allowed to destroy the watersheds that provide the public with drinking water.

Every level of government, municipal, provincial, and federal must work together in order to establish laws that are able to supercede the rights of private landowners, when it comes to protecting the safety and quality of drinking water. Today water does not have any real protection under the law, because our society is based around private ownership of land.

What you can do to change the status quo is to make water protection an election issue by asking your local candidates what they plan to do about private destruction of public water. Local municipal Elections are fast approaching on Saturday November 15, 2008 and the BC Provincial elections will be on May 12, 2009.

I live in the Nanaimo Regional District area F where there are two candidates running for the position of area director. The incumbent, Lou Biggemann, has shown his colors as a supporter of development, and commercial industry. I have met Biggeman at several public events where he has verbally expressed displeasure with my writing and my stance on the environment.

Ceri Peacey is also running for the position of director of the RDN area F, she is a director with the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society in charge of the Hamilton Marsh Committee. I have heard her speak to the regional board in Nanaimo, with passion and articulation, calling for action to protect the watershed. She has put a great deal of time and energy into public awareness of the environment and she asks for input from others.

Vancouver Island is a rock in the ocean, which dries out completely during the long draughts of summer and fall. Some years are exceptionally dry while others include sporadic rains that dampen the moods of many locals, but do little for the water table. Aside from human consumption, fresh water is essential for salmon, fresh water fish, tourism, forests, plants, and animal life. Water is the essence of life! Where’s the protection?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Sunday October 5, 2008 Rally protesting logging in Cathedral Grove by Island TImberlands, owned largely by the BC Government.

Cathedral Grove is under attack again, this time by a company that the BC government owns 25% of through a numbered company in Manitoba. Does the public know that the same government responsible for protecting this unique old growth forest is logging adjacent to this world famous provincial park?

Scott Fraser, MLA for Port Alberni-Qualicum said; “The BC government is the single largest investor in Island Timberlands, which is putting the public at risk by logging along the boundary of the park. The government has a very important responsibility to protect public safety in Cathedral Grove. I need to know what the government is doing to protect the trees in the park from wind-throw caused by adjacent logging.”

The province of British Columbia has thousands of employees, who contribute a portion of their earnings to a pension fund. The BC government has established an agency to invest this money. According to their website, “The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC) provides funds management services for public bodies and publicly administered trust funds. Public sector pension plans constitute the largest client group.”

The workers who contribute to these trust funds in recent years have included: B.C. Association for Schools, Teacher’s Pension Plan, Union of BC Municipalities, Saanich Police Board, British Columbia Pension Corporation, just to name a few. This same website states: “bcIMC has a limited partnership investment in Island Timberlands, a private timberland company located on Vancouver Island.”

Premier Gordon Campbell was at the Olympic games in China when he announced that his government was increasing the salaries of many CEOs of government companies. Doug Pearce, CEO for bcIMC was given a raise from $599,013 in 2007 to $726,737 for 2008 along with considerable raises to other executives in the firm. Meanwhile Brookfield has moved most of its holdings for Island Timberlands to Bermuda.

“The government is supposed to look out for the public interest, meanwhile a company the BC government has invested in heavily has established an off-shore company in Bermuda to minimize Canadian taxes,” said MLA Fraser.

In fact the BC government is the largest single investor in Island Timberlands, since bcIMC bought 25% of all shares for Island Timberlands in 2005, when the logging company was first established by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. However, Brookfield is listed under the heading of Real Estate on the bcIMC website not as Forestry. The investment is being made through a numbered company based in Manitoba.

In 2005 Island Timberlands was created with private land holdings that had previously been publicly owned as part of Tree Farm License #44. Despite the fact that Madam Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court in Hupacasath First Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests) found that the Province had a duty to meaningfully consult the Hupacasath about their claimed rights and concerns in regard to 70,000 hectares of private timberlands within their ancestral territory before deciding whether, at the request of then-owner Weyerhaeuser, to remove those lands from Tree Forest License 44 (TFL 44)

The old growth forest that is about to be logged by Island Timberlands is separated from the main trailed park by several meandering canals of the Cameron River. Due to the steep slopes to the south, this leaves little room for the 300-meter buffer the logging company claims they will be leaving between their clear-cut and the park boundary.

A wind-assessment conducted for BC Parks states; “…the sheltering effects of the stands to the south and west should be maintained. This could be accomplished by acquisition of adjacent lands as noted in the park Master Plan.” This same forest has been considered for purchase by The Nature Trust of British Columbia.

In the past week there has been a public outcry that reflects the local, national, and international passion for the Old Growth forest of Cathedral Grove. The locally elected representative for this riding has tried to raise public concerns. MLA Fraser explained; “I couldn’t question the government directly because they have cancelled the fall session of the legislature. So, I went into the offices for the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Transportation but they weren’t there.”

Government effects environment and that why I’m a green voting NDP federally so I don’t split the vote, thereby electing a conservative in my riding. Proportional representation would be much better.Monday October 6, 2008 Rally to protect Cathedral Grove at Island Timberlands' NorthWest Bay Division south of Parksville, BC