Hikers laced up their hiking boots and hit the trail on the weekend for a walk up the historic CPR trail up Mount Arrowsmth to see for themselves the area designated for imminent logging.
The hike, organized by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. saw dozens of hikers from communities around the area chuff their way to the top of the local landmark to determine the extent of damage to the trail and surrounding forest that could be caused by logging by Island Timberlands.
Coverage of this story started last Tuesday in The News.
The hike was led by local guide Federation of Mountain Clubs member Peter Rothermel. who called the trail a national treasure.
“The Old Arrowsmith Trail is 100 years old and is arguably the oldest footpath in current use on Vancouver Island,” he said. “Past owners of the lands that it passes through have respected what a treasure it is and with handshake agreements, have generally left it alone. In my mind, it’s a national treasure.”
The purpose of the hike, Rothermel said, was to determine what, if any, damage was likely to happen to the trail, should plans by Island Timberlands to log in the area come to fruition.
The news, he continued, does not look good.
“Island Timberlands is proposing to have roads cross both the CPR and Lookout trails, with talk of visual buffers and a bridge over the trail, so as not to even disturb the path,” Rothermel said.
“My thoughts are that Island Timberlands is set to destroy this trail.”
Rothermel said there are two roads marked on a map that parallel the trail on both sides of McBey Creek.
“As well, only 10 or 15 metres off and paralleling the trail were many trees marked in blue paint, indicating a falling line,” he said.
“If those plans come to fruition, the trail will not only be visually impacted, but the resulting windfall will guarantee that there will be decades of heavy trail maintenance needed.”
Annette Tanner, the head of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s Mid Island chapter, said her group plans to hold another hike in future and give a slideshow presentation at a public meeting, to be scheduled at a later date.
Her husband, former Qualicum Beach councillor Scott Tanner, said he was disturbed by what he saw.
“I am disappointed that an offshore logging company would put profits before local community values,” he said.
“It is very sad to see the lack of respect for such an historic hiking area here on Vancouver Island.”
Morgan Kennah, manager of sustainable timberlands and community affairs for Island Timberlands, said the company is doing what it can to minimize the impact.
“We are working with stakeholders to discuss outcomes that give a positive result,” she said.