District Lot 1313 is a 48 hectare property in Area E, bordered by Reed Road on the south and Area D on the west. In the 1940’s it was designated as a Gibsons watershed reserve in order to protect down-slope residents. It is in the recharge area for the aquifer that provides drinking water for the SCRD and Town of Gibsons.
When provincial land regulations changed in the early 2000’s protection for watershed reserves was removed, so the Area E Official Community Plan designated the block as a park in order to preserve it, but it is Crown Land. In 2013, without any public notice or consultation, the block was suddenly added to BCTS Operating Plan as Timber Sale Licence A91376. BCTS acknowledges that it is in an “urban-rural interface,” but insists it can be logged.
Local residents were alarmed, particularly those whose properties are below DL1313 and who are afraid that logging above them on a steep and very wet hillside will result in flooding or debris flows. Also, many of these properties are dependent on wells, and neighbours worry about the impacts on groundwater. The area has existing problems with stormwater, especially during heavy rains, and the flooding affects numerous properties on the benchland below, which includes some of the best agricultural land on the coast.
Neighbours were even more concerned when a major washout of Lower Road occurred in February 2020 directly below an area logged six years ago. An April 2020 SCRD report states: “The community and several experts have suggested that the land clearing of District Lot 1312 contributed to this situation because of reduced the capacity of the land to absorb water or moderate the speed and volume of surface flows upstream.”
The SCRD has actively opposed the logging of this property since at least 2016, and the auction of the cutblock was deferred in 2016 and 2017. In November, 2018 fifty-five people staged a “mock roadblock” on Reed Road, and in March 2019, Doug Donaldson, FLNRORD Minister once again postponed the auction.
The 2020 BCTS Operating Plan takes a new tack. The block has been expanded north and west into Area D, and been labelled an “area of enhanced public engagement”. This expansion will allow BCTS to gain road access through Roberts Creek and avoid the potential roadblock on Reed Road. As of May 24, 2020 the only “engagement” has been a handful of one-on-one meetings with selected property owners who were contacted individually.
The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, working in conjunction with the Elphinstone Community Association, is developing an innovative proposal for the creation of an educational forest. This naturally regenerated forest has exceptional biodiversity, and is extremely valuable to the community for its carbon capture, stormwater retention, and natural aquifer filtering, not to mention its beauty and recreational values.