As I cycled on Columbia Avenue Monday afternoon, I came across barriers blocking the passage between 4th and 6th Streets. Camped in the middle of this thoroughfare were about thirty people protesting the logging of old growth forests in our province. This group has tried in vain to meet with BC Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development who is our Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy. Some of the protesters travelled distances in hopes to meet with the minister but she has not made herself available. The group realizes they are being civilly disobedient but are ready and willing — if necessary — to go to jail if that’s what it takes to get Ms. Conroy’s attention. It is most unfortunate that this matter has escalated to this point.
In my opinion, this demonstration would not have happened one year ago. At that time our NDP government was in a minority position and needed the support of the Green party to pass their legislation. As we remember, Premier Horgan called a snap election last September when the pandemic was in full swing and the Green party just elected their present leader. There was no active local campaigning because of the pandemic. Horgan got his majority and now has the power to govern without other parties’ support.
So this group who believe our old growth forests need to be protected have camped out on Columbia Avenue. They call themselves Extinction Rebellion West Kootenay. They demand our Minister of Forests Conroy stop the logging of old growth trees at Fairy Creek and throughout B.C. They are occupying our main street in Castlegar until their demands are addressed. I am looking to our MLA to protect our forests and collaborate with others to reach solutions that benefit all of us.