Cedar logs in a working cutblock at Collison Point/St’alaa Kun. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Court rejects CHN call to pause logging at Collison Point/St’alaa Kun

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses Haida Nation call to stop logging until August hearing

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected the Haida Nation’s call to stop Husby Forest Products from logging four cedar-leading cutblocks at Collison Point/St’alaa Kun.

The Council of the Haida Nation had asked the court to stop the logging until the end of August, when another court hearing will look at whether Husby should have received cutting permits to log the areas in the first place.

In a decision issued July 5, Justice Gordon Weatherill agreed with a key argument raised by Husby — that the elected provincial government, not the courts, must be the one to enact a new policy capping the annual cedar harvest on Haida Gwaii.

“The courts have a supervisory role to play, and should be wary of usurping legislative and executive roles and effectively governing by interlocutory order,” Weatherill wrote, quoting an earlier B.C. Supreme Court decision involving the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

RELATED: Husby defends its work at Collison Point / St’alaa Kun

Weatherill also noted that the CHN knew for years about Husby’s Collison Point plans and knew since November that the province would approve them over the CHN’s objections, but only sought a court order to stop the cedar-heavy logging at Collison on May 28, having failed to negotiate a deal with either Husby or the province.

That counted against the CHN when Weatherill weighed what he found to be real and likely harms to Husby and to the Haida Nation should the logging stop or go ahead.

RELATED: CHN seeks injunction against logging at Collison Point / St’alaa Kun

On balance, Weatherill found Husby would suffer the greater harm if the logging were stopped.

For five weeks, Husby had to lay off 21 mostly on-island workers while waiting for the court’s decision. It already lost two staff and one contractor who moved away from Haida Gwaii during a seven-week blockade at Collison Point in March and April.

Husby has also spent $1.1 million to prepare the contested cutblocks at Collison Point, and says it will lose customers if it does not follow through.

On the other hand, Weatherill said there is no evidence that logging the four particular cutblocks at Collison Point will have any meaningful impact on the Haida Nation’s rights or title.

With about 36,000 m3 of timber, the four cutblocks and one more already logged at Collison make up just a quarter of one per cent of the timber-harvesting area on Haida Gwaii. Although it may not be popular, the district forestry manager has also noted that the Haida can harvest cedar for cultural use in any of the protected areas on Haida Gwaii, including Gwaii Haanas and cedar stewardship areas.

However, Weatherill did find convincing evidence that overall, cedar is being logged at an unsustainable rate on the islands.

In October, B.C.’s Chief Forester said cedar logging on Haida Gwaii has exceeded a 2012 guideline that in the timber-supply area, no more than 38 per cent of the annual harvest should be cedar — a portion that currently works out to a cedar cap of 195,000 m3 a year. According to evidence presented by the CHN, at current rates there will be no commercially available mature and old-growth cedar left on Haida Gwaii in about 20 years, or around 2038.

Finally, in his decision Weatherill found that allowing Husby to go ahead and harvest the cedar at Collison Point when there is no B.C./CHN consensus and strong opposition from the Haida Nation “cannot help but harm the reconciliation process.”

Husby Forest Products could not be reached for comment about the decision, but judging by a statement posted on the Haida Nation website, that last harm has already started.

“This ruling seriously undermines the Kunst’aa Guu — Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol Agreement and again brings into question the Province of B.C.’s commitment to it,” said Haida Nation President kil tlaats ‘gaa/Peter Lantin.

“We are seriously reconsidering our participation in these processes. This is another case of the off-island economic interests running over sustainability and it’s unacceptable.”

The CHN said it will discuss next steps regarding the logging at Collison Point with Haida citizens at a special session in Old Massett this week.

Meanwhile, provincial officials are investigating separate allegations by the CHN that Husby illegally logged monumental cedar trees at Collison Point, in violation of the Haida Gwaii land-use order.

A new timber-supply review for the whole of Haida Gwaii is also expected later this summer. Fast-tracked out of concern about the over-harvesting of cedar, it is meant to provide planners with better data for setting a sustainable limit on timber harvesting.

Husby expects to complete its Collison Point operation in 2019, and then move on to the Sewell area.

Correction: The CHN expects that if current rates of cedar harvest continue, there will be no commercially available mature and old-growth cedar left on Haida Gwaii in about 20 years, or around 2038. An earlier version mistook the year as 2023, and did not explain that it was a two-decade timeline. We regret the error.

Council of the Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Deve… by Haida Gwaii Observer on Scribd

Just Posted

Update: North Beach clam harvest closed due to PSP biotoxin

Marine biotoxin results in closure for all bivalve harvesting from Wiah Point to Rose Spit

In Pictures: Rock the Plank! brings in the booty

Pirate-themed skate party raises $2,500 for new Masset Skate Society

Haida Gwaii fishing grounds are key to survival of northern resident killer whales: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Masset suggests a simpler structure for Gwaii Trust

Change would parallel existing municipal, regional district representation for non-Haida communities

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

Through your lens: Okanagan wildfires

Check out some of the captivating images and video from social media of the wildfires

BC Games: Opening Ceremony from Laketown Ranch

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read