VICTORIA – Communities, First Nations, Surfers and Environmentalist are frustrated and saddened by the BC Supreme Court decision on December 23, 2008 not to uphold the CRD’s progressive bylaws in and around Jordan River.
“Western Forest Products has continually shown disregard for the will of the affected communities. Although the court decided the CRD process has flawed, it does not lessen the communities’ resolve to rpotect what is most important to them,” said Maurita Prato, Forest Campaigner for the Dogwood Initiative.
On October 15 and 16 2008, Western Forest Products and members of the Association of BC Landowners challenged the process by which the CRD implemented progressive zoning on the lands in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. The bylaws were passed due to community outrage over a government decision to allow Western Forest Products to sell vast tracks of forest land to developers.
“This is a huge setback; yet another in a series of disturbing decisions. Since the announcement of Western Forest Products’ Tree Farm licence deletions in January 2007, there has been repeated undermining of community planning, running counter to the public interest and to peoples’ hopes for this area. Unfortunately, people are forced to react out of fear of losing what is most important to them, and anger that they have not been part of the decision making process. This latest decision means that our communities and the whole south Island stand to lose even more. We will not stop pressing government at all levels to take the needs and concerns of our communities into consideration when decisions of such magnitude are being made,” stated Terri Alcock, community resident and former representative of Shirley/Jordan River on the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee.
“This is certainly a step backwards for this area and everyone who cares about the future of our wild coast. The court has tied the hands of the CRD, our only recourse is to take this to the provincial government who earlier decision started this destructive process,” stated Prato. “It is time for them to make good on the promise that the ultimate fate of these lands would lie with the communities.”
Under the old guidelines, Western Forest Products only had until April 23, 2009 to have their subdivisions approved. This decisions extends that period indefinitely.
“The race to save Jordan River is still on! We will have to see if the CRD appeals the decision. I would be surprised if they just let this go,” said Prato.