Dogwood Initiative apologizes for the release chickens in Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong’s office on Tuesday, March 23 during a rally to protect forest lands and stop reckless development on Southern Vancouver Island.

Dogwood initiative prides itself on its ability to catalyze individuals to take action on issues that concern them and when required to step outside of conventional channels that have been proven not to work.

Although the idea of releasing chickens in response to Ida Chong’s refusal to respond to community concerns over reckless development did not originate with Dogwood Initiative, the student activists that released the birds do have an association with Dogwood and we therefore deem ourselves responsible for their actions. Proper institutional controls were not in place to ensure that actions at this rally were appropriate. As Executive Director of Dogwood Initiative, I accept full responsibility for this and have taken steps to ensure that appropriate checks and balances are in place in the future.

The fact that some people feel they need to resort to unusual actions is indicative of the level of frustration that local citizens feel over the BC government’s handling of the removal of 28,000 hectares of land from Western Forest Product’s tree farm licences.

As the Auditor General clearly stated, the government created the problem by failing to protect the public interest, deficient consultation with affected parties, and insufficient due diligence of WFP’s finances as well as accepting the dubious rationale that making the lands available for reckless development would protect forest jobs.

To date local Minister’s Chong and Coell have not responded to community concerns, nor taken a leading role in solving the problems their government created. Tensions will continue to escalate until the government steps forward and works with the CRD and community groups to solve the problem. Dogwood Initiative will continue to work with all parties to develop and implement a lasting and sustainable resolution that will protect forest lands and stop reckless development on Southern Vancouver Island.

Concerns have been raised about the welfare of the chicken released. We have investigated and determined that the chickens were not harmed during the event. We regret any distress that the chickens may have experienced during the event. The chickens are now Victoria’s Animal Control and we are taking steps to ensure that the birds are adopted by a humane home.