Gambier woodlot logging put on hold

Ministry must consult with Squamish Nation

The Ministry of Forests has delayed awarding logging rights to two controversial Gambier Island woodlots over the issue of First Nations consultation.

Logging on the lots won't go ahead until the ministry at least consults with the Squamish Nation.

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The two woodlots comprise 1,326 hectares on the island's northeast corner circling Gambier Lake.

The side-by-side sites includes hiking trails, a community watershed, and patches of old growth forest.

Six bids were received on each of the woodlots, ranging from a low of $100,000 to a high of $488,000.

The ministry's move to delay awarding the contract follows a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision granting the Tsilhqot'in First Nation title to a 1,750-square-kilometre swath of land in south central B.C. The judges ruled economic development on the land could continue only if there is consent from the band or if the Crown can prove a "compelling and substantial" public interest.

Minister of Forests Steve Thomson decided more work needs to be done on Gambier to ensure the province is meeting its new constitutional obligations, according to a statement from the ministry.

The new logging delay follows a previous delay this summer when the Ministry of Forests held off on awarding the woodlots pending greater community consultation.

The ministry has no timeline for completion of the consultation, according to ministry public affairs officer Greig Bethel.

Several North Shore residents with summer cottages on Gambier expressed concern that the logging could deplete the island hideaway when the plan was unveiled earlier this year.

"It's the wilderness heart of Howe Sound, and a prime recreational jewel," said West Vancouver resident Peter Scholefield when discussing the logging plans this June.

The annual combined cut in the two woodlots would be 6,000 cubic metres, according to the ministry.

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