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Victoria chapter rallies outside courthouse against logging in Walbran Valley

Photo by Torrance Coste.

Photo by Torrance Coste.

The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter was at the Victoria Courthouse this morning to participate in a rally against the logging company Teal Jones, which is asking the court to deny public access to the Walbran Valley in Pacheedhat First Nation territory on Vancouver Island.

As noted in the Facebook outreach for the rally, “Teal Jones, the logging company working overtime to cut the heart out of the Walbran Valley, is also trying to bar public access to the Valley for citizens obeying the law and not participating in blockades. On January 4th at 9:45am, Teal Jones will be at the Victoria Courthouse applying to extend its injunction for another nine months. We’ll be there too, to show that the public has a right to access the Walbran Valley and see the threatened old-growth forests that stand there. …This is another attempt from Teal Jones to bar public access from the Walbran Valley, and we’ll be there to speak out against the destruction of this world-class old-growth rain forest!”

The Victoria Times Colonist now reports, “About 40 people against logging of old-growth trees in the Walbran Valley protested outside B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria this morning as forestry company Teal Jones was about to argue inside to extend an injunction to limit blockades of its operation.”

In September, the BC government issued logging permits to Teal Jones for the Central Walbran Valley.

DeSmog Canada reports, “When independent activists began blocking Teal Cedar’s road-building operations in early November, the company went to court to seek an injunction (court order) to have activists who stood in the way of their operations arrested by the RCMP and brought before the court. Wilderness Committee (WC) campaigner Torrance Coste was surprised to find that he and the WC had been named by Teal Cedar in a civil suit and accompanying injunction, despite the fact that the Wilderness Committee does not endorse or organize civil disobedience.”

The Times Colonist article adds, “[In November}, Teal Jones was granted an injunction until Dec. 14 that was extended until [Jan. 4]. The injunction allows legal protests and activities but stops protesters from interfering with the company’s harvesting operations. …Now Teal Jones is applying to the B.C. Supreme Court to extend the injunction again until September 2016. …Counsel for the Wilderness Committee is arguing that the 50-metre zone buffering protesters from the logging equipment is too large and the duration of the injunction too long.”

Coste says, “In a democracy like B.C. we have a right to get out and witness what’s happening in our forests, to witness ecological destruction and to report back on that. Teal-Jones is trying to bar that and we’re here to stand up and say the public is deeply concerned about what is happening in the Walbran.”

On Dec. 21, the Nanaimo chapter joined a protest on Vancouver Island against Teal Jones. Chapter activist Lynne Alton told us, “Early Monday, December 21st, several Council of Canadians supporters joined about 30 folks from Victoria and Shawnigan Lake at Duke Point … protesting logging old grown trees in Walbran on the West Coast.” CHEK reported, “Close to two dozen protesters stopped the trucks as they reached Duke Point, a short distance from where they offload, before company Teal-Jones barges the logs to its mill in Surrey. …The protesters say the park is threatened by the current logging and they’re asking the BC government to stop allowing the cutting of old growth.”

That news article quoted Bobby Arbess stating, “We’re raising awareness to the tragic loss of one of the last remaining areas of ancient temperate rain forest on southern Vancouver Island, adjacent to Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.. It was an area that back in the day was created in 1995 and was designated as a special management zone was supposed to be a buffer around the park.” And Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner TJ Watt notes, “96 per cent of the low-elevation old-growth forests have been logged on Southern Vancouver Island. Today, the Central Walbran represents some of the finest of that last 4 per cent that we need to protect.”