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Mayoral candidate in North Cowichan seeks quick restart to logging Six Mountains

A mayoral candidate in North Cowichan is pushing to begin logging the Six Mountains within 90 days of being elected.

John Koury, a Lake Cowichan resident who failed in a bid for council in 2018, is also the only mayoral candidate who has not committed to complete the consultation into future management of the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve and to maintain the current moratorium on harvesting until the consultation is completed, according to questions posed by Where Do We Stand, at .

The forest consultation process has involved thousands of hours of staff and volunteer time and is now approaching the final stages. During the process, the public has overwhelmingly expressed support for ecological values over logging. A parallel consultation is underway with local First Nations.

On his website, Koury writes: “In the first 90 days, at the will of council, we will have an action plan to resume forest operations in the Municipal Forest Reserve.”

The campaign commitment raises questions about protection of the environment and viewscapes. The Six Mountains are part of the most at-risk forest type in B.C., the coastal Douglas-fir forest. A report for North Cowichan estimates 141 species at risk.

Election papers show Koury was nominated by Tek Manhas and Bruce Findlay, who favour friendlier municipal policies on development.

Manhas is the only councillor who voted in favour of continued logging of the forest reserve before the public consultation into whether citizens even want more logging has been concluded.

During the 2018 election campaign, Koury said: "I support a review of the forest land assets and operations.”

He added: "I support using the bloated forest reserve fund to fund homeowner rebates for new home builds, legal suite renovations and multiplex residential development.”

And: "I believe there is an opportunity to chart a new course for the municipal forest operation and mandate that will require public consultation.”

Also during the 2018 campaign, Manhas expressed "full support” for the following questions:

Do you support:

(1)— A policy that allows residents to comment on logging plans within the Municipal Forest Reserve prior to logging decisions being made?
(2)— A better balance of community interests on the Forestry Advisory Committee to ensure that a wider range of community interests, including the preservation of important viewscapes, is represented.
(3)— A logging ban on important forest viewscapes, including the lower slopes on the south and east sides of Mt. Prevost.

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