Ever since the Town of Ladysmith went through an Alternative Approval Process for a boundary extension proposal by Couverdon Real Estate and TimberWest that could have seen the Town secure lands around its watershed last spring, the issue of watershed management has been a high-profile one in the community.
The proposal did not go through, and many people in the community have raised questions about the capacity of the Holland Creek, Banon Creek and Stocking Lake watersheds.
Ladysmith resident Greg Roberts believes that creating a multi-stakeholder watershed management roundtable could help answer many of those questions and develop better understanding of the many issues surrounding the watershed. He brought a proposal for such a roundtable to Ladysmith council March 2.
The purpose of the roundtable would be to develop effective management approaches to maintain ecosystem health and water quantity and quality in a manner that respects the many interests involved.
After Ladysmith council voted not to proceed with the Couverdon development, Roberts wrote to the president and CEO of TimberWest, suggesting that TimberWest consider a process for involving the Town and its residents in the development of harvesting plans for the Ladysmith watershed.
In his letter, he also suggested that TimberWest consider taking a leadership role in the development of a watershed management plan.
Roberts was invited to meet with Domenico Iannidinardo, TimberWest’s vice-president of sustainability and chief forester, Frank Limshue, Couverdon’s director of planning and zoning, and resource technologist Steve Adams. They met in mid-January, and Roberts brought along Dave Judson and Greg Gott from the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club because of their active involvement in the watershed. Bryan Henderson from the Advocates for Holland Creek also attended because of the hydrological work he has undertaken on the watershed.
Roberts said TimberWest indicated that for the past 20 years, it has had annual meetings with Town of Ladysmith staff and council and built positive relationships.
“We pointed out that the process they go through, however, is not well-understood by the public of Ladysmith and that a meeting once a year with staff and council does not effectively communicate or allow public input into the management of this essential resource: the town’s water supply,” wrote Roberts.
TimberWest indicated that if the Town of Ladysmith took a leadership role in creating a watershed management roundtable, TimberWest would be an active participant.
Roberts advocated a roundtable with roughly eight seats representing local government, First Nations, forestry, recreational users, ecology and conservation, tourism, Ladysmith business, and general interests.
Council voted to support the creation of a watershed management roundtable in principle.