Had the land on the northeast side of Granite Bay on Quadra Island—logged by TimberWest in 2018-2020—been previously deleted from TFL 47?
Lesley Fettes, District Manager
Campbell River Natural Resources District
Dear Ms Fettes,
I am submitting this letter on behalf of the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project in response to your invitation for public comment on a proposed change to the visual quality objective for the area of District Lots 319 and 318 and adjacent Crown land on the east side of Granite Bay (referred to as “the area at issue” below).
I have reviewed the background material your office provided, including the letter from the Forest Practices Board. Thank you for providing this material.
I had earlier contacted your office about the lack of certainty regarding the status of the land at issue. I note that the Forest Practices Board stated in its letter that some land in the general area had been removed from the TFL to establish Small Inlet Marine Park, but government maps incorrectly showed the area of the complaint as part of the park.
Based on our research, the Forest Practices Board is correct in stating that the area at issue is not in the park. But there is good reason to believe this area was deleted from TFL 47 by an Order in Council or by some other instrument. The Forest Practices Board does not provide a chain of custody history for the land at issue, and other documents show the land as having been deleted from the TFL.
These documents include a map of areas deleted from TFL 47 in TimberWest’s 2012 Management plan #4. The map (below) from that document shows areas deleted in brown. It shows the area at issue had been deleted from the TFL previous to 2012. Management Plan #4 mentions several examples of deletions from the TFL over a period of more than a decade.
Keep in mind, this is TimberWest’s own mapping of the TFL and it is difficult to fathom how or why the company would erroneously delete land from its TFL in its Management Plan.
We also have obtained a map that was created by TimberWest that shows the area at issue as not in TFL 47. The map below shows TimberWest’s version of its timber harvesting land base (blue-grey areas), and the land at issue is not in the TFL. Again, it is hard to understand how TimberWest could make such a mistake. The map is correct in every other respect.
In going through the record of deletions from TFL 47 from 1992 to 2010—as shown in the Ministry of Forests’ archive of TFL 47 management plans #1, #2, #3 and #4—it is evident that aproximately 8999 hectares were deleted, as enumerated below:
- 1992: Instrument 9 (“takeback area”): 2980 hectares
- 1996: OIC 589 according to TimberWest MP #4: 3345 hectares*
- 2003: Forest Revitalization Act removal: 1236 hectares
- 2003: Instrument 16: 1438 hectares
Total for these 4 deletions: 8999 hectares.
(* For OIC 589, we used the numbers from the order except for Surge Narrows Provincial Park, for which we estimated 44 hectares are on Quadra Island.)
To what category of Crown land were these deletions transferred? Four provincial parks absorbed 3345 hectares and eleven Woodlot Licence tenures were given 5469.5 hectares.
The total for these two categories was 8814.5 hectares.
So, of the 8999 hectares of deletions, we can only account for 8814.5 hectares.
Where did the remaining 184.5 hectares go? We believe this is the land on the northeast side of Granite Bay. Note the nearly exact match of the areal extent of the land at issue compared to the missing 184.5 hectares.
- The small island to the west of Lot 319: 15.3 hectares
- Lot 319: 33.63 hectares
- Lot 318: 42.11 hectares
- Crown land between Lot 318 and the north-south boundary of Small Inlet Park: 92 hectares
Total for these 4 areas: about 183 hectares.
Keep in mind that each of these areas is shown as being deleted from TFL 47 in TimberWest’s maps.
We are aware of no other forest-based tenure on Quadra Island that has been created during this period (1996-2003) that could account for the missing 184.5 hectares.
TimberWest’s maps that show the area at issue had been deleted from the TFL, plus our accounting of the area of the deletions, and the areas of the new tenures created by those deletions, create serious doubt in our minds that the area at issue is still in TFL 47.
Since the area at issue is not within the current legal boundaries of Small Inlet Park, it would appear this land should be classified as vacant Crown land. It likely was intended as a protected area, but fell through the cracks. In 2001, TimberWest expected to give up 751 hectares to Small Inlet Park. In the end, only 487 hectares of TFL were shifted to the park (see page 20 of this document). This would explain why the area was mapped in the 2007 GAR order as being a park or protected area.
I asked Cody Gold in your office if he would look into this issue; Cody wrote back and stated, “I’ve conducted a brief review of our records and unfortunately, I was unable to find an explanation regarding the TimberWest Management Plan. I would encourage you to reach out to TimberWest/Mosaic to see if they can assist. If Mosaic are unable find an explanation in their records, there is also the option to submit an FOI request.”
Since there was no possibility of obtaining records through an FOI by the March 31 deadline for comments, I asked TimberWest for their input.
In particular, I asked TimberWest’s Operations Planner Gary Lawson for an explanation for why his company’s own maps showed the area at issue had been deleted from the TFL, yet it was now logging in that area. Management Plan #4 states that it was prepared for Lawson, so he seemed the best person to provide insight about why the maps in that plan showed the area at issue had been deleted from the TFL.
TimberWest has logged in the area at issue almost to the boundary of Small Inlet Provincial Park
Lawson responded to my query with the following explanation: “The area you mentioned is part of TFL 47. An area had been removed from the TFL to make the Small Inlet Park in the late 1990’s. At the time of the writing of the TFL Management Plan #4 it was mistakenly assumed that this area had been included in the removal from the TFL and added to the park. It had not. This area continues to be managed as part of TFL 47. The official maps of TFL, attached, clearly shows this.”
Lawson included a map which showed the area in question as not being in TFL 47. However the map also showed several areas that are definitely not in TFL 47 as also being in TFL 47. This included several parcels of private property along Granite Bay Road and also District Lot 488. The latter has been in Woodlot 2032 and Woodlot 1969 for over a decade, yet Lawson’s “official” map of TFL 47 did not show this change—or the private property.
Lawson did not respond to a request for legal, documentary evidence about the status of the land at issue.
I understand that all you really want from the public are comments on the designation of a visual quality objective of “retention” for this area. Given the murky circumstances outlined above, however, I would suggest this area should continue having a “preservation” status. Until such time as the ministry can explain the issues raised here, we suggest that the small island to the west of Lot 319 also be given “preservation” status, not “partial retention” as it now stands. This island lies at the entrance to a provincial marine park and should not be logged.
Any plans TimberWest might have to damage this area further should not be approved by the Ministry of Forests until such time as a definitive explanation is provided to the public regarding TimberWest’s map of deletions. Also, the ministry needs to provide a credible explanation for why the area of the deletions from TFL 47 do not match the area of the new and expanded woodlots and provincial parks. Lastly, the ministry needs to provide an exact timeline for the deletions and how that land was redistributed.
With Premier Eby’s announcement of expanding protected areas to 30 percent of land and water in BC by 2030, this area would be ideal for a protected area expansion, subject to First Nations’ approval.
The land at issue includes the small island in the centre of the image below and the land behind it.