North Cowichan to forge new path for the Six Mountains beginning in early 2020
In a few weeks, North Cowichan residents will get their first peek at plans for a public consultation process into the future of the Six Mountains/Municipal Forest Reserve.
Megan Jordan, North Cowichan’s communications and public engagement manager, says she is awaiting a draft plan from Lees and Associates, the Vancouver company that received the municipal contract to lead the public consultation process.
Jordan said the draft plan will tentatively be discussed at council’s Jan. 29 meeting. Actual engagement work would likely begin in February. “We don’t know what that will look like because we don’t have a plan yet,” she said.
Lees' project manager assigned to the contract is Megan Turnock. The company was selected from eight bids for the contract in November.
A Duncan-based company, Indigenuity Consulting Group, will be working with Lees, handling a separate engagement process with Cowichan Tribes. “That’s a huge aspect, really important to the project,” Jordan says.
The president of Indigenuity is Cheryl Brooks, a Sto:lo from the upper Fraser Valley and a former associate deputy minister in the provincial energy and mines ministry.
If the fiasco over the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit expansion bid is any indication, this public consultation process will be anything but straight forward. Residents favouring a progressive, long-term future for the Six Mountains that rates viewscapes, ecology, and recreation over the short-term benefits of logging will have to be forceful in expressing their views and not allow the process to be hijacked.
North Cowichan is also working with the University of British Columbia on management options for the Six Mountains, including the potential to earn carbon-credit cash for leaving the trees standing.
In 2013, TimberWest and the Crown corporation, Pacific Carbon Trust, finalized an agreement that paid the timber company $6 million for a carbon-sequestration project, the largest of its kind on the BC coast. The company agreed not to log more than 1,000 hectares of its old-growth forests at dozens of sites on Vancouver Island for 100 years, including 50-hectare Koksilah Grove in the upper Koksilah River, which flows into the Cowichan River estuary.
If big business can do it, why can’t North Cowichan?