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Clearcutting on hockey players' land irks residents

Roxanne Gregory
Special to The Province
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Geoff Courtnall
Geoff (Courtnall)
 
Russ Courtnall
Russ (Courtnall)
 

EGMONT -- Logging on the privately held property jointly owned by former pro hockey players Geoff and Russ Courtnall is raising community concerns.

Local lodge owners and residents are riled over clearcut logging they claim is destroying the landscape, devaluing their property and hurting eco-tourism, the lifeblood of this tiny Sunshine Coast community.

Yesterday, as chain saws roared across the inlet, residents voiced their concerns.

"You can't just devastate the land because it's private property," said Sechelt Band Coun. Stan Dixon, who is also a Sunshine Coast regional district director.

"What they told us they were doing and what they're doing is two different things," said Sechelt Chief Garry Feschuk.

Regional district spokes-man John Rees said the feeling at the district government was that "they're planning to log the hell out of it."

"We can't fight billionaires," countered lodge owner Paul Hansen, whose spectacular view is now marred by a two-hectare clearcut.

"They're not interested in how the community feels," said Anita Horovenko, who urged residents to organize and fight the Courtnalls.

Russ and Geoff Courtnall, logging contractor Dale Malloch and American entrepreneur Paul Reddam jointly own the $12-million property.

Malloch, who wasn't at the meeting, said the owners weren't interested in meeting with a mob. "We bought the property to harvest it. It's a managed forest. We will be harvesting 100,000 cubic metres of wood next year and we'll be replanting 350,000 trees. It's a tree farm."

Malloch said he was willing to meet with residents in the future, adding they're building a residence on the 2,600-hectare property, but there are no imminent plans for a resort, as had been previously reported.

He said they were trying to buy some adjacent property that would aid in developing the site.

Recent developments in the Pender Harbour area have been put on hold by the Sechelt native band, who must be consulted on land-development issues.

Area residents hope the band will use their influence to stymie further land purchases by the group.

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 Copyright  2003 The Province

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