Canaries or NIMBYs?

A report of the BCEC public meeting on logging, March 2007

Forest Index

canaryPeople in Bragg Creek are whining again. Are they a warning sign of trouble or are they only concerned with their own self-interest?

The Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition held a public meeting on plans by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Spray Lakes Sawmills to carry out extensive clearcut logging in Kananaskis. On March 29, about 150 people heard from panellists:

Harry Chase, MLA Calgary-Varsity
Ralph Cartar, President, Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition
John Jagorinec, Senior Water Quality & Regulatory Analyst, City of Calgary.

Harry talked about his attachment to Kananaskis developed through his stint as a campground manager. He provided insight into the political realm and encouraged us to include the media in our distribution list when we write letters to politicians. He said that he could table letters in the legislature from people with questions and concerns on this issue.

John had a lot of questions (as yet unanswered by logging planners) as to the effect logging might have on Calgary's water supply. We do know the Elbow is a trickle of water, compared to other rivers that supply major cities, that it is susceptible to contamination and disruption of water flow. We know that 1/2-million people depend on it.

Ralph mixed a passionate concern with a lot of charts and facts to explain that in the very worst case, only a third of the trees in Kananaskis would succumb to a pine beetle attack. An attack of that size would be imperceptible in 25 years. When the largest trees are gone, young mixed species trees in the understory would have a growth surge. In contrast, a clearcut patch of similar age would still scar the landscape. According to Ralph, cutting down the trees to save the forest is a ludicrous proposition. He asked us to write letters to our MLA and the Ministers responsible for Kananaskis to tell them that we don't want logging in Kananaskis—whether it’s for bark beetles, forest fires, or anything else.

Jordan Odney, an eco-tourism student at Mount Royal College told us that clearcuts lay waste to the landscape making it unsuitable for outdoor recreation. Tourists won't come, causing businesses in Bragg Creek and outdoor stores in Calgary to suffer. He said that he is the future and Spray Lakes Sawmills is a relic of the past.

There were representatives of hunting and trail riding groups. They are concerned about land use and access.

We are at the beginning of a long battle. First we need to get the government to listen to us. Second we need to put an end to logging and industrial activity in Kananaskis. Part of that process will be a study to determine the cumulative environmental impacts of growth and development on water and the natural habitat. If we succeed, we'll be left with a big question, what to do with Kananaskis?

We need a land use policy for Kananaskis. Stakeholders from industry, agriculture, tourism, health, municipalities, the environment and recreation must be heard and a policy hammered out. Many of those interests will get hammered and a lot of people are going to be unhappy. It is important that recreation interests be heard in this discussion.

What do you think? Can you hear the canaries singing?

Dr. David Swann, Liberal MLA for Mountain View invites you to a rally for responsible land use and water management in Southern Alberta on Friday, April 13, 2007.  The rally will be held at the McDougall Centre (455 – 6th Street SW, Calgary) at 12:00pm.