How can forestry and tourism co-exist?

North Island candidates respond to this week's question from the Campbell River Mirror

  • May. 7, 2013 6:00 p.m.

This is the last full week of campaigning before May 14 provincial election.

This week the Mirror asked the three North Island candidates:

Q. The Discovery Islands has become a focal point for logging versus tourism. What would your Party do to strike a better balance between the two economic pursuits?

Nick Facey, BC Liberals

Forestry and ecotourism both contribute a lot to our provincial economy, and to our coastal communities. I believe there is room for both in the Discovery Islands.

Much of the forest land around the Discovery Islands is already second growth forests, so the fact that these same forests are viewed as beautiful and natural today is evidence we are managing our forests responsibly, and sustainably.

British Columbia has some of the world’s most stringent forest regulations. Among other things, these laws require that forest companies accommodate tourism requirements.

As a result, in areas such as the Discovery Islands, harvest areas are smaller and are carefully designed by specialists to meet the order to establish scenic areas and visual quality objectives as established by the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Long before logging begins, forest companies must share their plans with all interested stakeholders – including local communities, First Nations and tourist operators to address their concerns.

This has led to situations where forest companies have taken extraordinary steps to accommodate the interests of tourist operators. One company installed direct barge log-loading facilities so it did not have to dump or store logs in channels during the peak tourism season.

The BC Liberal Party is very much aware that forestry is vital for our prosperity on the coast. Harvesting on the Discovery Islands creates jobs for local families, First Nations communities and logging crews, and much of the wood goes to coastal mills– where renewable, carbon-friendly and world-class products are made for customers worldwide.

Forestry and tourism can co-exist as long as we encourage an open, honest, and respectful discussion.

Bob Bray, BC Conservatives

The British Columbia Conservative Party recognizes that the forestry industry and tourism are each important components of the North Island economy.

These industries, while hardly complementary, have co-existed for many, many years. It must be noted that the first Thulin Hotel was established in 1924 in Campbell River.

Neither tourism or forestry need be diminished by the other and both can flourish in the region.

Best practice policies including selective logging and smaller cut blocks have been adopted by the forestry industry over the years. Continued improved practices and a reasonable, mutual sensitivity to the prerogatives of each enterprise, despite the inevitable tensions that exist, must prevail.

Each industry must be commended for their mutual toleration and engagement with the other over the years. This has permitted the simultaneous expansion of both industries to the benefit of all North Islanders.

If elected, I will work to have a neutral third party available to mediate contentious issues and disputes.

The Discovery Islands benefits from both clearcuts and tourism. Kayakers, boaters and other visitors are amazed at the amenities they discover in vibrant communities on the many Discovery Islands.

Claire Trevena, BC NDP

Our forests have been a fundamental economic driver in the North Island for generations. The BCNDP is committed to the forest industry. A cornerstone of our platform is a five-point plan that includes revitalizing the land base to ensure a sustainable future for the industry.

Our forests also are fundamental to other sectors, in particular tourism.

Because of its economic importance, the BCDNP plans to enhance, in partnership with businesses and communities, tourism marketing and promotion.

Logging sometimes provokes conflicts between these industries.

Over the years, I have spent countless hours working with forestry companies, tourism businesses and the Ministry of Forests to facilitate an equitable balance of interests.

I consider it time well spent because achieving this balance is of vital importance to the overall economic wellbeing of the North Island.

Both industries are big employers and provide spinoff benefits for many local businesses. Like the democratic process itself, striking a balance between them often requires creative thinking and compromise by all stakeholders.

Right now, there are areas around the Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait that are increasingly contentious. Simply put, the forestry companies want the logs and the tourism operators need viewscapes to attract customers.

I believe that for the common good of the North Island an acceptable balance of interests must be achieved in these areas.

I think this is possible, through mediation if necessary, if we bring all the affected parties together to find solutions.