'It isn't going to be pretty': Lake Cowichan mayor concerned nearby logging protests will escalate
VICTORIA -- The quaint town of Lake Cowichan seems to be caught at the intersection of industry and activism.
The South Island town is the closest centre to the anti-old-growth-logging protests near the Fairy Creek watershed.
The town has seen a boom in vehicle traffic passing through to head to the blockades, and is also dealing with loud nighttime protests outside the local RCMP detachment.
"They are just not the people who live here. They aren't getting a lot of credibility and especially because they are breaking the law," said Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day.
"They are not getting a lot of mileage in the hearts and minds of the people of Lake Cowichan," he said.
Protesters have been blocking logging roads outside of Lake Cowichan for over a week.
Police have made more than 100 arrests as activists refuse to let heavy industry into the region to begin a provincially approved old-growth cut.
Activists are demanding that the province end old-growth logging.
The forestry company, Teal Jones, has the provincial green light to log in the Fairy Creek area and a court-ordered injunction to remove the blockades was granted in April.
Teal Jones tells CTV News Vancouver Island it has permission to harvest in a 1,200 hectare swath of forest, but is choosing to only take roughly 20 hectares of the ancient trees.
The company has also said that due to ongoing blockades in the region, roughly 100 people are out of work.
Much like protesters, Lake Cowichan’s mayor is calling on the provincial government to take action to stop the ongoing blockades and arrests.
Day says the province should either make good on its promise to reinvent old-growth management policies, or take a harder line to end the protest so people can get back to work.
"I'm concerned that this is going to escalate, that community members are going to take matters into their own hands and it isn't going to be pretty. We don't deserve that," he said.
RCMP say they have arrested approximately 112 people since it began enforcing the injunction on May 18. Fifty-five people were arrested on Tuesday alone, including nine people who had already been arrested once, according to police.
Over the May long weekend, protests supporting forestry workers and protests against old-growth logging took place on Vancouver Island, including on the lawns of the B.C. legislature building.