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Stillwater residents question logging

Island Timberlands plan to restrict beach access near log sort
stillwater logging
TREES FALL: Island Timberlands has been harvesting its private-managed forest lands in Stillwater, but residents there say what worries them most is whether they will still be able to access the beach. Contributed photo

Logging near Stillwater Bluffs has some neighbours worried that Island Timberlands may restrict public access to a nearby beach.

Stillwater resident Abby McLennan said the logging activity does not come as a surprise as it is private-managed forest land.

She and others suspect this logging may be the first step in Island Timberlands moving forward with a six-lot subdivision the company proposed to the provincial government with the support of Powell River Regional District (PRRD).

One of several conditions of an original PRRD approval was that the company provide a buffer to the company’s Stillwater log sort and, in that area, a beach access trail. The lot being logged is next to Stillwater Bluffs.

“Now the bluffs are quite popular and are on all the tourist maps,” said McLennan. “People are coming down here and they are going on other people’s property to get to the bluffs, so why not ensure access and solve that problem?”

PRRD Electoral Area C director Colin Palmer said he has not heard any news of the subdivision project moving forward.

“If anyone is clearing land for logging that’s their business because it’s private property, but if they are going to go public with a subdivision, then I’m sure my contacts with Island Timberlands would contact me,” said Palmer.

The land being logged and potentially subdivided is on the parcel that includes the log sort. People heading down to the beach and the bluffs currently have to cut across private property, said McLennan.

In 2012, the PRRD board approved a recommendation for conditional support of Island Timberlands’ application to create a proposed six-lot conventional subdivision of parcel d, district lots 1631 and 7702, group one, New Westminster District, plan LMP23245.

In July 2015, Island Timberlands’ then director of real estate Christopher Dawes wrote a letter back to the regional district asking the board to reconsider the access condition.

“This item I have a serious concern upon, as the waterfront areas are all industrial and thus pose a significant health and safety implication,” wrote Dawes. “I understand the desire for public access to the water, particularly in this location, however, I would suggest that be the subject of discussion when the land is developed.”

The regional planner agreed to Dawes’ request and a new recommendation of support was drafted that did not include the beach-access provision. It was brought to the board for support at the board’s August 2015 meeting.

McLennan said she is frustrated with the situation because looking at maps of where the existing trail leads does not present a clear picture. She said the existing trail does not go down into the log sort’s industrial area.

“It’s actually a beautiful trail in the woods that comes down close to the water in the small, little side cove south of the log sort, quite a ways away from the industrial work,” said McLennan. “It’s not like the trail would pop out right at the log sort.”