Vehicles towed as old-growth logging protests continue on Vancouver Island
Published Friday, June 11, 2021 10:56AM PDT
VICTORIA -- Despite the approval of a two-year deferral on old-growth logging in southwestern Vancouver Island, protesters continue to camp in the area.
There are several reasons why, according to protesters, though the central one is that activists want old-growth trees to be protected in perpetuity.
"It's a step in the right direction, but that's it, it's just a step," said protester and Nuu-chah-nulth member Sage Mundy of the two-year deferral.
The two-year suspension of old-growth logging in the region came into effect after the deferral was requested by three Vancouver Island First Nations – the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht nations.
The deferral protects 884 hectares of old-growth forests in the Fairy Creek watershed and 1,150 hectares of old-growth in the central Walbran valley for the next two years as the nations develop long-term stewardship plans.
Leaders of the First Nations say they expect protesters not to interfere with other approved logging operations in the area.
"Visitors to the territory need to acknowledge the authority of Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones," said Pacheedaht Elected Chief Jeff Jones on Thursday.
The matter is complicated, however, as some Indigenous Elders who disagree with elected leadership are standing with protesters calling for greater protection of old-growth forests in B.C.
As protests continue, forestry company Teal-Jones says some protesters have had their vehicles towed for parking in restricted areas.
The company says it is only removing vehicles that RCMP have identified as breaching a court-ordered injunction that allows blockades to be removed if they are impeding logging work.
"In some cases vehicle owners have removed their tires, positioned their vehicle at a narrow point, and taken other steps to hinder access and make removal as difficult as possible," said a Teal-Jones spokesperson on Thursday. "That strongly indicates the people parking those vehicles know they’re doing so illegally."
The company says that all costs related to towing and storing a vehicle is the responsibility of the vehicle's owner.
A notice form sent to CTV News shows that Teal-Jones is requesting $2,500 to return each vehicle.
"This amount is partial compensation for the damages that the vehicle caused Teal Cedar," reads the notice.
CTV News has reached out to RCMP for further details on vehicles being towed.
As of June 10, RCMP say that roughly 206 people had been arrested, mostly for breaching the injunction or obstruction. Of those people, at least 10 had been arrested once before.