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VIDEO: Old growth forest counter-rallies converge on the streets of Island city

Pro-forestry and preserve old growth supporters argue and debate in front of MLA’s office

Both sides of the old growth logging issue came to a head in Campbell River on Thursday morning.

What was originally going to be a small demonstration against logging old growth in solidarity with the campers at Fairy Creek, expanded as a counter-protest of pro-forest industry supporters who came out in numbers.

While both sides were adamant in their convictions, the majority acknowledged that there needed to be a middle ground struck between the two camps.

RELATED: Arrests continue to mount despite paused old growth logging on southern Vancouver Island

“We’re not deforestation, we practice forestry,” said Carl Sweet, who had come out in support of the industry.

Sweet was speaking with Rod Burns, who supported stopping old growth logging. Burns explained his side, saying: “We’re not against logging, we’re against current forestry practices.”

“You have a sign that says ‘Forestry Feeds My Family,’” he continued. “Well forestry feeds ALL families.”

Both convoys made their way from the Logger Mike statue in Spirit Square to MLA Michele Babchuk’s office. Babchuk was not present in Campbell River at the time. A sizeable contingent from the forestry side of the debate brought two logging trucks, along with a large number of demonstrators to counter protest.

City councillors Charlie Cornfield, Kermit Dahl, Ron Kerr, Sean Smyth and Colleen Evans were present, with City of Campbell River-branded placards proclaiming their support for the industry.

While tensions did not boil over into violence, many demonstrators from either side argued and debated their points in the street in front of Babchuk’s office. The old growth protectors took up the space in front of Babchuk’s office, while the counter protesters stood in the street in front of the building. The two logging trucks were parked in front of the office for some time, but moved on to allow traffic to flow.

However, not everyone was in agreement. Charlie Forrester came out in support of logging, said that “in my opinion, environmentalists have no place at the table.”

“Until they stop all this with the harassment, intimidation and threats of violence, they have no place at the table,” he added.

Richard Hagensen, from the old growth defence side, said, “It’s really important to say that we’re not against logging. We’re against old growth logging. There’s lots of second growth and third growth that can be logged. It will involve building more sawmills… to process that lumber here.

“We’re in the hands of a small handful of large logging companies that are basically ruling the roost and in charge of most of the logging in B.C. Things have to change.”

Hagensen, a representative of the Campbell River Council of Canadians chapter, left a letter at Babchuk’s office calling on the government to defer logging in all high productivity, rare and intact old growth forest.

After roughly an hour, the two protests ended and people dispersed.

RELATED: Pro-forestry supporters move in on anti-old-growth logging rally

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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