B.C. Supreme Court grants injunction to remove Fairy Creek logging blockades

The B.C. Supreme Court has granted an injunction to remove protesters from logging sites near the Fairy Creek area of Port Renfrew.

The blockades were set up in August against logging company Teal-Jones. Protesters say the blockades were established to prevent old-growth logging in the area.

The province says it supports the right for British Columbians to hold peaceful protests, but expects everyone to respect the court's decision moving forward.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says B.C. is trying its best to strike a balance between conservation and employment.

"We know some are calling for an immediate moratorium, but this approach risks thousands of good family-supporting jobs," she said in a statement Thursday. "We know others have called for no changes to logging practices, but this could risk damage to key ecosystems."

Conroy added that the province has implemented four of 14 recommendations that were brought forward following a report into old-growth logging in B.C. in September.

"Our commitment to this important work has not changed," she said. 

Activists say they will continue to call on the B.C. government to stop logging in the area.

“The confrontation between logging company Teal-Jones and forest defenders in court is the result of the ongoing failure of the provincial government to follow through on their promise and deliver solutions to protect globally rare and endangered old-growth forest like the spectacularly intact Fairy Creek rainforest in Pacheedaht territory,” said Sierra Club BC campaigner Jens Wieting in a statement Thursday.

B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau took to Twitter following the injunction Thursday to slam the provincial government, saying the court’s decision “sets the stage” for logging in the last intact old-growth valley on southern Vancouver Island.

Today, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favor of forestry company Teal Jones Group and their injunction application to remove protestors and blockades from #FairyCreek. It sets the stage for #OldGrowth logging in the last intact old growth valley on Southern Van Island. 1/ #bcpoli

— Sonia Furstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) April 1, 2021

Furstenau also called on the province to revoke the Teal-Jones logging permits.

.@jjhorgan promised to implement all of the recommendations of the #OldGrowth Review Panel, including immediate deferrals of logging in high-value at-risk forests. The #FairyCreek watershed is the definition of a high-risk ecosystem. 3/ #bcpoli

— Sonia Furstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) April 1, 2021

The Pacheedaht First Nation has previously called for an end to logging in its traditional territory, saying the forests in the area are sacred to the nation.

"The creeks there, Renfrew Creek and Fairy Creek, are cleansing creeks, so they are spiritually important to the Pacheedaht First Nation," Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones told CTV News in February.

In a statement Thursday, Teal-Jones vice-president Gerrie Kotze said "the timber in these areas is vital to sustaining Teal-Jones’ operations and hundreds of jobs in the province."

"We respect peaceful, non-disruptive protest in our licences, and only recently sought an injunction after many months of protesters blocking certain areas of our operations," Kotze added. "It is time for our work to get underway."

While it remains unclear how quickly the injunction will be enforced, the judge's decision Thursday says "police enforcement terms are required in this case. There appears to be little or no likelihood that the injunction order will be respected, otherwise."

"The RCMP have indicated a preference for police enforcement terms in circumstances such as this, where the blockades are numerous and persistent," the judge wrote, calling the protesters "a very militant group" who "claim to have hundreds of active participants."