Sunshine Coast activists demand public consultation on Wilson Creek logging

Photo by Heather Conn

About 80 Sunshine Coast residents gathered peacefully on Dec. 4 outside the office of Sechelt, BC mayor John Henderson to demand public consultation regarding the current logging of nearby Wilson Creek forest. Henderson did not appear.

Nine were arrested this week after trying to halt the start of logging on 27 hectares of this forest, known as cutblock EW002. This is one of the last intact, natural forests left in the Wilson Creek watershed. Its largest tree, a Douglas fir, measures 2.31 metres across.

Barb Higgins photo by Heather Conn

Sishalh elder Barb Higgins (Xwu’p'a’lich), 79, one of the nine arrested, leads a ceremony outside the Sechelt mayor’s office. She has occupied land at the forest trail head in an effort to preserve it as part of the Sishalh band’s traditional territory. However, the RCMP had her trailer towed away this week when the arrests were made, along with the cars of the arrestees. 

Hans Penner speaks to crowd. Photo by Heather Conn. 

Hans Penner of the conservation group Elphinstone Logging Focus addressed protesters. He and others have condemned the group Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF), which has the licence to log the Wilson Creek forest and others on the Sunshine Coast. Despite its name, the SCCF, comprised mostly of forestry officials, holds all of its meetings in camera. Sechelt mayor John Henderson is a former director of this group.

Photo by Jack Stein

Almost all logs taken from the Wilson Creek forest are shipped, unprocessed, overseas. Concerned Sunshine Coast residents are urging people to increase public awareness about these raw log experts. Protesters are promoting the message:

“It’s not what you take but what you leave behind.” 

Photo by Jack Stein

One of the Wilson Creek forest’s giant Douglas firs was recently named “Mus-swiya’s tree” after Sechelt elder Jamie Dixon. 

Photo by Jack Stein

Wilson Creek, shown in the above photo, now has forest around it logged. Only about three percent of the Sunshine Coast’s area base is protected, which is one of the lowest ratios in British Columbia.

Across B.C., 14 percent of the land base is parks, says Dylan Eyers, BC Parks' area supervisor for the Sunshine Coast. 

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