The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)

Tolko urged to halt planned logging above Greater Vernon water supply

RDNO says planned cutblock above Duteau Creek could threaten 60 per cent of Vernon area water supply

The Regional District of North Okanagan is urging Tolko Industries to halt plans for a cutblock near the Greater Vernon area’s primary water source.

The Duteau Creek water intake — also known as the Headgates — is located 500 metres below the proposed logging activity. It supplies 60 per cent of the water that services the Greater Vernon area, the RDNO said in a Thursday (April 22) press release.

Tolko, a Vernon-based lumber manufacturer, is planning to log on top of a steep slope directly above “this vital source of water,” the RDNO said, adding its engineers and a hydrologist on retainer are “very concerned” that this logging and the remaining partially cleared land on the block could lead to a landslide or debris torrent, which in turn could damage the water system.

The RDNO received notice on April 9 that the logging would be taking place in May 2021.

“Based on the current information available, the risk to water quality and quantity is unacceptable to the RDNO,” the release states.

The RDNO has been in talks with Tolko about the cutblock since it first became aware of the logging plan back in 2016, but says Tolko has “made marginal changes to their plan in response,” and officials are unconvinced that the risk has been properly addressed based on the information Tolko has provided.

The district is requesting that work on the cutblock be paused within the watershed boundary, until Tolko engages with the district to find a solution that protects drinking and agricultural water supplies, while allowing the company to access fibre.

“The board adamantly opposes the current proposal to log (this) Tolko block,” reads a staff report to the RDNO board Wednesday, April 21.

“We want to be clear. The RDNO is not opposed to logging or forestry operations. We have serious concerns about logging at this specific location, and we are asking Tolko to pause and work with us so we can find a mutually beneficial solution,” said Kevin Acton, chair of the RDNO board.

In response, Tolko communications advisor Chris Downey told the Morning Star they received the RDNO’s letter two days ago and are currently evaluating its contents.

Downey said the proposed cutblock is within the Timber Harvesting Land Base, which B.C.’s chief forester refers to when drawing up annual harvesting levels.

The disagreement appears to be on the level of expert opinion: while the regional district’s engineers and hydrologist saw red flags in their assessment of the cutblock, Tolko’s review of the site came to the opposite conclusion.

“Tolko’s staff geoscientist field-reviewed the site and produced his professional evaluation and report, which indicated that it would be safe to harvest in the area,” Downey said, adding Tolko has shared its report with the regional district.

Tolkso argues there is a benefit to harvesting the area, as it would create a fire break that could slow the spread of a wildfire were one to occur there.

“Additionally, old logging roads would be removed along with our temporary new road at the end of the process and the area would be replanted,” Downey said, adding that “several” planning assessments were completed that support Tolko’s move in this direction.

“We all depend on the Duteau Creek community watershed for our water supply, and this is why Tolko has worked hard to develop a good relationship with the Duteau Creek Watershed Technical Advisory Committee and the Regional District,” Downey said.

READ MORE: Province pauses plans to log Rose Swanson Mountain area in Armstrong

READ MORE: Former BC Tree Fruits Kelowna packinghouse listed for $20M


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

forestryWater

Just Posted

Quinn, left, and Adrian Van de Mosselaer are going through UBCO’s nursing program together after Quinn encouraged his brother to go back to school. (UBC Okanagan/Contributed)
UBC Okanagan student transitions from professional hockey to nursing

Adrian Van de Mosselaer credits his younger brother for the push to get him back to learning

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

A GoFundMe page has been launched to alleviate the financial burden for “Captain” Kelly, a former Peachland School District bus driver who was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer. (GoFundMe.com)
Fundraiser launched for former Peachland school bus driver diagnosed with cancer

“Captain” Kelly was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Most Read