Over 60 people braved Thursday’s rain to attend the Wildsight rally in Nelson to take part in the group’s regional day of action to protect the province’s old growth.
The rally was one of four events in the region on Thursday as the group marched to local MLA offices urging policy implementation to protect the region’s old growth from being cut.
The rally started in front of Nelson city hall and proceeded with a march through town towards Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson’s constituency office.
Anderson had prior commitments and was not at the event, however in an interview before Thursday’s event she told Vista Radio she appreciates and supports environmental activism as an effective tool to call for action from governments.
“I believe activism and environmental activism is important. It puts public pressure on government. I’ve been an activist before. I’ve been in those marches before. So when people want to come and march, I encourage them to do so.”
Anderson says her government has done a lot of work over the last three years to ensure the protection of the province’s old growth but agrees more needs to be done.
“Our government has done a lot. But is there still more to do? Yes. We’ve protected 2 .5 million hectares of the oldest and rarest old growth, old growth trees in the province. We are working with First Nations to look at more protections and more protected areas. We have a commitment by our premier to protect 30 per cent of the water in the land base of our province by 2030, which is a significant step forward.”
Her constituency office also made a statement on her behalf at the event Thursday and apologized for her absence and assured activists that her and her team hear their concerns and are actively working towards safeguarding the province’s old growth.
Her statement was well received by the group for the most part. However Andrea Fox, a member of Wildsight and Last Stand West Kootenay, says apologies and promises aren’t enough.
“I wonder if Brittny actually means what she says. We recently sat down with Brittny after the incident happened in Argenta and as any good politician would do … they apologized. They said they were working on it … but the reality is we are running out of time, and the worst part is we know what we need to do.”
Fox said she and a friend recently visited an area where old growth was once prominent. She compared the area to a museum that reminds society of its failures.
“They’re barely there. Actually, they’re still there, but we’re cutting them down and the lack of these keepsakes [old growth] is a reminder of how we failed to protect what was left. We need to see these changes being implemented now.”
Fox said the province needs to honor comments made by conservation and Indigenous groups when they ask for policies to be in place that would reduce the annual allowable cut and moratoriums on old growth logging.
These requests have been made consistently, according to Fox, who stated the province needs to be more considerate of them.
“We have to honor those comments and those voices, and we need to make a stand as a community to get behind those people putting themselves on the front line fighting the good fight.
“I know I’ve heard a lot of comments from people asking what the point of these rallies are. We’ve been doing these for decades and nothing has changed. But looking around here I see all these people that believe change is possible. Even if it’s just one voice, even if I was the only one out here, I would still do it, to be in integrity with myself and to stand for what I believe in.”