What was initially supposed to be a series of presentations put on by the Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee at the Community Centre on Monday night instead became a support rally for foresry workers in the region outside the locked doors with signs on them that announced the event had been cancelled. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

What was initially supposed to be a series of presentations put on by the Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee at the Community Centre on Monday night instead became a support rally for foresry workers in the region outside the locked doors with signs on them that announced the event had been cancelled. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Sierra Club presentation becomes pro-forestry rally after Campbell River event cancelled

Organization says it’s disappointed that their booking at Community Centre was cancelled by the city

The Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee were scheduled to host a presentation entitled “Forests: A Climate for Change” at the Campbell River Community Centre on Monday night, but the event was cancelled at the last minute based on recommendations from the RCMP and the City of Campbell River over concerns including “a high risk of emotionally charged behaviours and security and public safety reasons,” the organization announced on its Facebook event page.

“We’re really sorry to folks who had planned to attend and especially to anyone already on their way to the event,” the post reads. “We are in communication with the city about rescheduling a public meeting in the future.”

The event was initially planned to be “an evening of presentations on the climate crisis, the state of old-growth and second-growth forests on Vancouver Island and how these two relate to each other, followed by a discussion about how we can build a just and sustainable future together,” according to the group, but when word got out about the presentation, it became a rallying point for those in the forestry industry, many of whom are currently out on strike or dealing with other downturns in the industry, such as recent curtailment announcements.

In response to the clear opposition being voiced by many in the community, it was announced earlier in the day that the format of the event would be changed.

“Due to recent logging curtailments, the ongoing Western Forest Products strike, and the economic realities facing forest industry workers, we are changing our plans for this evenings’ event,” the group announced. “We are dropping our planned presentations and instead will provide space for an open community discussion about these complex issues,” adding “Our goal has never been to antagonize forest industry workers. Our organizations do not seek to end forestry on the west coast. Yes, we advocate for the protection of rare and endangered forests, but we want to see a healthy and sustainable forest industry that benefits people in forest communities. We have a lot to learn about this, and this is our intention when we host public events on the North Island.

“We look forward to having a respectful conversation with those in attendance. There has never been a more important time to come together and find common values than now.”

But the 200 or so people who turned up to have that discussion were met with signage on the doors that the event had been canceled and instead rallied outside the facility in support of forestry in the region.

Leigh Baker and his partner Lacee Myatt were two of those community members who came out in support of the industry.

Baker works as a contractor under Mosaic Forest Management, and says he showed up to hear from “the other side of the argument,” intending on quietly attending the presentation.

“I just wanted to understand where they were coming from,” he says. “I wasn’t even planning on saying anything, but this is my livelihood. This is what feeds my family. I just went to hear why they want that to slow down.”

He says when he arrived to find the doors locked, he was “a bit disappointed, but I have to say it was also pretty heartwarming to see how many people showed up in support,” Baker says. He also says he didn’t see the “security issue” that was cited.

“I didn’t see one disgruntled face. It was just a bunch of loggers there supporting each other, having discussions. There was no hostility,” Baker says.

“Nobody wanted a conflict,” Myatt agrees. “Everybody just wants to understand what’s going on.”

Mark Worthing of the Sierra Club says they, too, would like to understand what’s going on. Worthing says the organization was told at 5 p.m. that their booking had been canceled by the city and “we weren’t really even given a clear explanation.”

“This is what’s frustrating, because it feels like we’ve kind of been hung out to dry by the City of Campbell River,” Worthing says. “It makes it look like we weren’t excited to talk to everyone, which we absolutely were. We dropped all our presentations in order to have this open discussion instead, and then they just canceled our booking.”

They’re still hoping to hold the event, however, and Worthing says he hopes that those who showed up to the impromptu rally in the parking lot come back for it again once it’s re-booked.

“I think it’s outrageous that the city has shut down public discourse like this,” Worthing says. “This is an important dialogue that needs to happen in the public right now around forestry work, the forest sector, conservation, climate change – all the important issues we were looking to talk about.

“We actively seek out the perspective of the forestry sector to try to find conservation solutions, so something went awry here, and we’d very much like to know what it was,” Worthing continues. “We don’t see anyone else hosting dialogues like this, which is why we put them on. We can’t afford not to talk about this stuff, and it needs to involve the voices of the forest sector.”

RELATED: Canfor adds Christmas closure to B.C. forestry curtailments

RELATED: Mosaic Forest Management announces forestry shutdown



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Ladysmith area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donated $23,044 to Ladysmith Seconday School. From left to right: Steffen Toxopeus, Larry Shaw, Dave Travers, and Duck Paterson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donates $23,044 to support health of LSS students

The money will go towards funding the Hunger Bites program and purchase emergency supplies

(File photo)
LETTERS: Responses to Pateron’s Perspective

Jacqueline Leitch-Murphy, and Richard Tarnoff respond to Duck Paterson’s column

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read