The infamous court injunction against blockades in the Fairy Creek watershed on south Vancouver Island runs out on Sept. 26, and Teal Cedar, the company with a licence to log the area, has applied for a renewal.
“In the absence of an injunction and enforcement by the RCMP, anarchy will reign in and around Tree Farm Licence 46…” it wrote in the application.
On Teal Cedar’s heels are the Elders for Ancient Trees, who filed an application against the renewal. The group of seniors are against old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed north of Port Renfrew, where RCMP have arrested over 800 forest defenders in enforcing the April 1 injunction that declared protest blockades illegal.
All parties will present their arguments at a Sept. 13 B.C. Supreme Court hearing.
In an emailed statement, Teal Cedar said “All Canadians have the right to engage in peaceful protest. Unfortunately, despite the BC Supreme Court injunction, hundreds of individuals have continued to illegally blockade Tree Farm License 46, flagrantly breaking the law and harassing workers engaged in lawful activities. This is the antithesis of peaceful protest.”
The company lays out in detail the impact the blockade has had on its operations, including cutting off an inventory of big logs that are mostly old-growth, which go to a specialized mill in Surrey. That mill is operating under capacity and Teal Cedar said it might have to close the night shift, resulting in job displacement.
The blockades have prevented Teal Cedar from accessing several of its permitted harvesting areas, though with RCMP support they were able to access some cutblocks to harvest trees and build roads to other areas.
Teal Cedar’s application for renewal relies on the legal test for granting an injunction. That test requires that “there is a serious issue to be tried; the applicant will suffer irreparable harm if the relief is not granted; and the balance of convenience favours granting the relief.”
Elders for Ancient Trees argue that public interest should be included in that legal test.
“It shouldn’t just be about the rights of the company,” said spokesperson Saul Arbess in an emailed statement. “It’s about the rights of all of us, including our Charter rights, the threat we face from climate change and the direct link to the destruction of old-growth forests.”
A renewed injunction will do more harm than good, the Elders argue.
When Justice Frits Verhoeven granted the injunction in April, some respondents who are now part of the Elders argued then for the inclusion of public interest. Verhoeven said their claim was a matter for the government, not for the court. He considered public interest before him to be the rule of law.
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