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Coast Reporter - Beverly Saunders - 13 Dec 03

NEWS
EGMONT

Residents raise concerns over Pacific Northwoods project

BEVERLY SAUNDERS
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Around 35 concerned Egmont residents met at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge on Wednesday to voice their opinions on the most recent logging on property owned by the Pacific Northwoods Company. Pacific Northwoods is owned by former NHL hockey players Geoff and Russ Courtnall, logging contractor Dale Malloch of Vancouver Island and U.S. investor Paul Reddam. A new clear-cut area directly across from Egmont brought new interest from local residents.

Resident Karen Horst and others organized the meeting. Horst said she talked to Malloch and invited him to the meeting. He declined to attend.

In a conversation by phone with Malloch, he stated the local residents should know that Pacific Northwoods has a development plan in place. He said they have filed a forest management plan.

"We do not intend to always clear-cut an area," he said. "We have spent $250,000 eliminating debris and clearing, and we will plant 350,000 trees this year alone."

Malloch said that out of respect for the people around them and because of the dry weather, they suspended operations this summer. At the present time a new home is being built on a waterfront piece of the property.

"Why would we spend $1 million on a new home if we were leaving?" asked Malloch.

Most local residents said they feared the entire mountain across from Egmont would be clear-cut. Many businesses in Egmont are appealing to tourism and the business owners feel this logging operation could hurt their business.

Attendees learned because all the land is privately held, there is really nothing to be done about how it is logged. There are forest restrictions on logging contracts on provincial lands or on private property that is under the Managed Forest tax assessment program.

Egmont Community Club president Geoff Craig said he has been in contact with Lands and Water B.C. because he understood that Pacific Northwoods had made inquiries about buying some of the remaining provincial lands, including Egmont Point at the entrance to Sechelt Inlet.

Craig was told if they do apply to purchase that land, there would have to be public hearings, rezoning and consultation with the Sechelt Band. They would also have to submit a forest management plan.

Sechelt Indian Band members, including Chief Garry Feschuk, were also in attendance.

Feschuk said the Sechelt band once had a 58-acre reserve across from Egmont and now owns only two acres.

He said the Pacific Northwoods group met with the band last year when they were purchasing the property.

"What they told us and what they are doing is different," Feschuk said. "If they are trying to purchase additional property, they will have to come through the band, and we are dealing with that.

"The province does not have the ability to extinguish aboriginal title and they must consult with the First Nations."

Residents decided to form an association to voice their concerns. They will focus on two areas: new purchases by Pacific Northwoods and the effect of the logging on the creeks, surface water and fish habitat. A committee will meet on Dec. 14 to compose a letter addressing these concerns.

The letter will be presented to the SCRD, Pacific Northwoods, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Sechelt Indian Band.

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