Union Bay residents’ efforts to prevent logging in their local watershed might have just done the trick — for now.
At its Feb. 15 board meeting, Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) board chair Peter Jacques said UBID has received a “verbal agreement” from forestry company Island Timberlands to postpone logging near Langley Lake until summer 2019.
Island Timberlands had previously given notice to UBID that the company intended to log within 20 meters of the lake’s shoreline for the 2018 timber harvest.
Langley Lake is the drinking water source for roughly 1,200 Union Bay residents, but Island Timberlands owns the forested lands that surround it.
Jacques also said at the Feb. 15 meeting that Island Timberlands intends to commission an independent third-party study on the effects of logging on the watershed.
However, he acknowledged that the independence of such a study would be questionable.
“I don’t know how independent it can be when you’re being hired by a logging company,” said Jacques at the meeting.
When residents learned last year about Island Timberland’s impending industrial activity, they started a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government. Dozens of residents — as well as the Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition — wrote to Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser. Fraser also chairs the B.C. Legislature’s Environment and Land Use Committee.
The residents’ letters expressed concern with the impacts that industrial activity would have on their water supply, and asked for a temporary injunction to be issued for any logging activity.
Fraser responded to the letter writers in late January. His response stated that he would be meeting with UBID to discuss the issue.
“I am also working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations on the issue around logging at Langley Lake as well as other private logging operations throughout Vancouver Island,” he wrote.
Residents also formed the Union Bay Watershed Protection Society to address the issue. The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at the Union Bay Community Hall.
Amidst these issues, UBID is currently working to construct a new water treatment plant at Langley Lake, construction for which is scheduled for October 2018.
Island Timberlands could not be reached on Friday to confirm UBID’s claim about a verbal agreement.