EDITORIAL: B.C. Ministry of Forests bungles FOI request

March 10, 2016

By: Vernon Morning Star

One has to continue questioning what is happening within the Ministry of Forests.

After all, the ministry’s B.C. Timber Sales has been less than forthcoming when it comes to communicating with Cherryville residents about Cherry Ridge logging, and now, the ministry has denied a freedom of information request to access a report into a slide on Sugar Lake Road.

The 2012 slide, which was 800 metres long and 10 metres wide, came extremely close to wiping out a house.

Residents have a right to know what may have triggered the slide and if the slope is safe, particularly given B.C. Timber Sales’ plans for further logging there. This isn’t about finger-pointing but about public safety and providing residents with confidence that their interests are a priority.

The ministry denied access to the slide report based on legislation, including legal advice, disclosure harmful to law enforcement, disclosure harmful to financial or economic interests of a public body and disclosure harmful to person privacy.

Those reasons may have legal merit, but should they trump a community’s right to know what is happening around them, particularly when it comes to safety? The resounding answer is no.

By not releasing the report, the ministry feeds the perception of a cover-up and that the agency is dodging what occurred in 2012.

It is time for Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, to directly get involved and demand that the wishes of Cherryville residents be followed. And that means he may have to take the issue straight to the premier’s office.

By: Vernon Morning Star

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