A meeting to decide the fate of the privately owned China Creek watershed was not attended by land owner Island Timberlands.
The meeting was attended by Port Alberni Mayor John Douglas, city councillors Hira Chopra, Jack McLeman and Cindy Solda, city manager Ken Watson, city engineer Guy Cicon, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional district directors Penny Cote (Sproat Lake,) Mike Kokura (Beaufort) and John McNabb (Beaver Creek) and a couple of Ministry of Forests representatives including South Island district manager Rhonda Morris.
While Douglas said that the meeting was productive, he expressed concern over issues of liability should a landslide occur in the watershed.
“We also talked about how all of the legislation and the guidelines are really geared to be reactive, they don’t kick in until something bad happens that disturbs our water,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the legislation reoriented so that it prevents harmful events from happening.
Coun. Solda found the meeting less productive, saying that not much could be done without Island Timberlands present.
A representative from Island Timberlands said in an e-mail that while they “were unable to attend the meeting” they were interested in meeting with the city “at a later date when some of our key staff are back from holidays,” adding that “our relationship with the city is important” and that they hold regular reviews with city staff and will follow up regarding the meeting.
Douglas and Solda both added that they would be looking to lobby to the provincial government to change legislation regarding how private land is managed through the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities, but stressed that would take time.
For now, Solda said that “we’re really at a standstill.”