The first post in a series of outlining the values that underpin our Balancing Forest Values law reform project.
By Abra Brynne
Twenty eight years ago when I drove into Ymir to meet my new father-in-law, I was startled to see a sign attached to the carport that proudly read “This family is supported by timber dollars” – and it was not the only one in that small village. Over time, my father-in-law expressed disgust at the changing logging practices and the impact he saw across a landscape that he loved and spent endless hours in, working and playing.
Since 2017, the residents of the Village of Ymir have been “under threat of losing our water and our town from industrialization in our watershed forest.” There is widespread concern amongst Ymir residents that if any industrial activities take place in their watershed, their only water source will be lost – water for drinking and for fighting fires. A community with no water source becomes a ghost town. The incalculable loss that hangs over the community includes investment in homes and properties, in businesses, cultural institutions, and the strong social cohesion that is typical of rural villages. Ymir is but one community amongst many whose residents log thousands of volunteer hours as water stewards, at a cost to their careers and families.
Despite the fact that there is legislation in place to protect drinking water, the full force of the protections has never been enacted. In the Forest and Ranges Practices, Water Sustainability, and Land Acts and their associated legislation, logging is always privileged. The same laws that privilege logging over water protection, recreation and ecosystems resilience also impede progress on upholding the rights and title of Indigenous people whose Nations predate British Columbia.
The community of Ymir and their effort to protect their watershed is one of the inspirations for our Forest Values project. This new project seeks to bring a more balanced approach to forest management in BC. The project goal is to create the necessary social and political will to successfully change laws in BC that privilege resource extraction over other values and services provided by our forests and lands. While the value of economic activity derived from BC’s lands and waters is undeniable, other values include full recognition of Indigenous rights and title, recreation and tourism, safe and adequate drinking water, and healthy river and riparian ecosystems that support diverse species. This project will forefront water as the rationale for law reform, as it is central to all life, resilient ecosystems and our food systems. If you are interested in learning more about this project, please reach out to our Executive Director (email@example.com).