Not only does Qualicum Beach councillor Scott Tanner support the municipality’s purchase of logging rights on a property on the west side of the Little Qualicum River, he wants the town to do more.
In 1986 the municipality purchased the 100-acre property for $150,000, but the former owner, MacMillan Bloedel, retained the cutting rights.
The town purchased those logging rights in 2010 for $185,000, but Tanner noted the move only protected about 10 per cent of the DL10 property, most of which had already been logged.
“Shortly after selling the land to the Town of Qualicum Beach, MacMillan Bloedel logged the eastern side of DL10, which is about 80 to 90 per cent of the land,” Tanner said.
“However, there was about 10 to 15 per cent of the land base on the western side of the Little Qualicum River where the access was quite challenging.”
In early 2000, MacMillan Bloedel was sold to Weyerhauser. At that point, Tanner said, the town began negotiations to purchase the logging rights for the remaining land.
“One option was to give Weyerhauser a little higher density on their neighbouring land in the regional district and in return they would put a conservation covenant on DL10, as well as on their own lands that were adjacent to it on the lower flood plain.”
However, the negotiations were plagued by a continually changing cast of characters.
“One of the things that created some challenges was that in the middle of negotiations Weyerhauser was sold to Island Timberlands. Many of the employees with Weyerhauser we had been working with were transferred. At the Regional District of Nanaimo level, many of the senior administrators transferred to the Capital Regional District, so trying to keep continuity was a real challenge.”
Weyerhauser rose to that challenge however, extending the deadline to purchase the logging rights on two occasions, in 2006 and again in 2008. In 2010 however, the town was given the word that the company was done.
“They said ‘that’s it,’” Tanner said. “The town recognized this land is quite significant in terms of the town’s future water supply and they came up with the money.”
Tanner said he wants to see the Regional District of Nanaimo expand the protected area in the floodplain of the Little Qualicum River in order to help safeguard the area’s water supply.
“In my opinion, if that area were to be logged, in the next 10 to 15 years we would see tremendous changes in the river.”