Residents of the Joe Rich area near Kelowna were stunned to learn that hectares of land near their homes appeared to have been mostly clear-cut by a logging company.
“Two days ago, this was all trees. And today…they’ve raped it,” area resident John Collinson said.
In recent years, the area has struggled with washouts and mudslides, and locals are concerned that logging will just make it worse.
“With the loss of all the trees from the fire three years ago, there’s already more instability,” resident Kristi Smith said.
“The highway washout a couple years ago was part of it, and there’s been all kinds of issues with water and washouts because there’s no ground stability with no trees,” she added.
In an email, Tolko said it’s trying to help reduce the wildfire risk in the area and that some trees have to be harvested because of the killer Douglas fir beetle.
Residents claim that’s just an excuse and also allege that the logging is putting nearby homes in danger.
“If they take away the trees right up to this property line, it no longer has any stability,” Smith said, pointing to where trees had been flagged above a house.
Residents also believe that the increased sedimentation caused by logging could potentially impact the city’s drinking water supply.
“There needs to be much more interest on behalf of the city, regional district and politicians generally in protecting the community watershed, not just for this community but for the city of Kelowna also,” resident Reg Volk said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the forestry ministry said Tolko conducted geotechnical assessments and is following the geoscientist’s recommendations.
“Legal and right are two different things. They’re just here to make the money,” Collinson said.
After Global News reached out to Tolko, the company said it will halt its harvesting activities until September and consult with nearby property owners.
Local residents hope that they’ll permanently stop logging the area.