The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) wants the province to give regional districts the power to make land use bylaws that would regulate private land logging.
And it wants the province to require large private forest landholders to register their properties in the province’s Private Managed Forest Program. This would require of owners a degree of land use planning and stream protection that does not otherwise exist for private land logging.
These two requests have been combined in a resolution to the annual conference of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in September. UBCM delegates will vote on the resolution, and if it passes, the UBCM will lobby the provincial government for the changes.
The resolution was put forward by Area E director Ramona Faust, who said it is a reaction to private land logging near Cottonwood Lake and Wynndel, as well as areas in the East Kootenay.
“We are looking for some regulatory way to foster better stewardship on private land,” she told the Star.
She said the resolution is intended to apply to large pieces of private land that are prone to being purchased for the purpose of clear-cutting, rather than to smaller parcels.
“We know it needs to be fairly innocuous and not cause too much expense for private land owners, so we needed to define the size of land we are talking about. We do not want it to be an impediment to people doing interface wildfire fuel remediation or home building.”
Faust says the RDCK took a similar motion to the UBCM last year, which passed. She says the UBCM has passed seven similar resolutions since 1992, and in each case, the government has merely responded by thanking them for their concern.
So this year Faust’s resolution is more specific, and asks for legislation that would give regional governments new powers to regulate some aspects of private land logging “to mitigate the impact of private land large scale timber harvesting on fish habitat, public safety and local government infrastructure.”
“If the province is not going to step up, then I guess we will have to,” she said.
Faust admitted this is a sensitive issue for private landowners.
“It is a touchy issue,” she said, “but when your property touches other private property or community infrastructure, we have a responsibility to work together, and plan accordingly.”