Seniors block downtown street for old-growth logging protest in Victoria
Published Thursday, June 10, 2021 1:45PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, June 10, 2021 7:10PM PDT
VICTORIA -- Approximately 200 seniors gathered on the lawn of B.C.'s legislature in Victoria on Thursday to protest old-growth logging in the province.
The seniors say they're calling for a recently approved two-year deferral of old-growth logging in areas of Vancouver Island to be extended across the entire province.
Some of the seniors say they're willing to be arrested for their beliefs, and about two dozen spread across a downtown Victoria street, blocking vehicle access.
"The premier and his cabinet need to keep their election promises to implement the old-growth strategy report in its totality," said 92-year-old Clare Lowery in a statement Wednesday. "We cannot build a future on broken promises."
Last week, three Vancouver Island First Nations notified the province that they would be suspending all old-growth logging activity on their lands for the next two years as the nations worked on long-term resource stewardship plans.
On Monday, forestry company Teal-Jones said it would abide by the First Nations declaration, and on Wednesday the B.C. government accepted the request.
The deferred lands include 884 hectares of old forests in the Fairy Creek watershed, near Port Renfrew, and 1,150 hectares of old growth in the central Walbran valley, near Lake Cowichan, where protesters have been set up since August 2020.
Despite the two-year deferral, some say the suspension does not go far enough.
Protesters in the Fairy Creek watershed say "very few have left" after news broke that the deferral had been approved on Wednesday.
The three First Nations behind the deferral – the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht – say no other groups have a right to speak on their behalf.
"We expect everyone to allow forestry operations approved by our nations and the Government of British Columbia in other parts of our territories to continue without interruption," said the nations in a joint statement Wednesday.
On Wednesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said significant changes to the province's forestry industry would take time to implement.
"I’m hopeful that those who have taken to the roads of southern Vancouver Island will understand that this process is not one that can happen overnight," said Horgan.