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NEWS - Coast Reporter - 14 Feb 2004

Logging controversies in Sechelt Inlet


Two controversial logging projects in Sechelt Inlet illustrate the difference between logging practices on private land and those on public land

International Forest Products has backed off from plans to log a three-hectare block of Crown land next to a cottage community on the east shore of Storm Bay near the mouth of Narrows Inlet

Al Blattler, manager of Interior's Sechelt office, said he decided to withdraw the request for those three acres after meeting with Storm Bay residents and other concerned citizens.

"We try to win the support of the locals and smooth over the concerns," said Blattler.

Storm Bay residents and the Sunshine Coast Regional District have requested several other changes to the logging plan, including leaving all the veteran trees on the cutblock. Blattler said Interior has not made a final decision on how to respond to those concerns.

Further up the inlet, Egmont residents have met little response to their concerns over a far larger logging show on private land opposite the Skookumchuck Narrows.

Pacific Northwoods Resources, Ltd. (PNR), owned by former hockey player Geoff Courtnall, logger Dale Malloch and investor Paul Reddam bought the 6200 acres of timbered property across from Egmont from TimberWest in 2002 and announced plans to build a high-end resort.

Large-scale clearcuts since then have transformed the view from the Skookumchuck. Anita Horovenko of the Friends of Egmont said that organization would continue to watch the logging and development by Pacific Northwoods.

"We feel we have a right to, since we will have to live with what PNR has done to the mountainsides for the next two or three decades," she said.

"...we will have to live with what PNR has done to the mountainsides for the next two or three decades." Anita Horovenko

Friends of Egmont wrote a letter to PNR requesting that they come to the Egmont community to reveal their plans. Last month Malloch refused an invitation-by the Friends of Egmont to attend a public meeting. He said he would meet with a small group in private, but so far no meeting date has been set.

Research into Malloch's logging companies has revealed more than one scenario similar to Egmont's. There have been at least two small communities on Vancouver Island that have had dealings with Timber West, Malloch Logging and Pinnacle Ventures (2002) Ltd., a company owned by Malloch, Dennis Rogers and Greg Killip, all of Victoria.

TimberWest had previously announced it would be selling its public holdings to concentrate on its private land holdings.

In the July 2002 TimberWest News, its real estate group director, Gordon Littlejohn, said of the Egmont-PNR property sale, "We could not recover the same value from merchandising the timber as could a smaller operator, because our harvesting standards are more stringent."

In 2001 TimberWest sold its 261-acre property at Shawnigan Lake on south Vancouver Island to Malloch Logging. The property on the flanks of Mt. Baldy was a popular hiking destination for its view and wildflowers. Mary Desmond of the Shawnigan Lake Water Watch says there are rumors now about a spa with the possible involvement of the Courtnall brothers.

The same goes for the new development that Pinnacle Ventures has proposed for the 440 acres it has acquired from TimberWest on Lake Cowichan.

Ken James of the Youbou Timberless Society believes that lots for summer homes will be developed on the property. With the timber gone and a development put in, residents are afraid there will be no benefit to the community. To date, no subdivision has been developed because Pinnacle cannot get rezoning approval.

The Marble Bay Scout camp sits on five acres of Lake Cowichan waterfront property in the middle of the 440 acres. According to camp director Jack Casey, the Scouts have a 99-year lease for the camp. They had an agreement with Timber-West (TW) that if the area was ever logged, TW would move the camp at their expense.

Now Pinnacle Ventures has logged all 440 acres except the camp. Casey said he wanted a buffer zone, but TW has logged right up to the camp boundary.

In Egmont, some residents are worried that the same thing will happen. Friends of Egmont recently sent a letter to Harold Long expressing concerns over the logging and any interest PNR may have to acquire Egmont Point.

"Based on what we have learned of Pinnacle Ventures' actions at Shawnigan Lake and Lake Cowichan, we question both the motivation and intent for acquiring Egmont Point," said Horovenko. The Friends of Egmont are worried the area will be logged before acceptable development plans are in place, she said.

"So far Pinnacle Ventures has a history of putting the cart before the horse. We want our regional district and of this and prevent it from happening here," she said.

------ with files from Nancy Moote-----