The Wilderness Committee’s appeal of a new logging road in a provincial park has been dismissed in a written decision by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, the environmental lobbying group said this morning.
The Manitoba government licenced Tolko Industries to construct a new logging road through critical caribou habitat in Grass River Provincial Park, where the government has said logging was banned, the committee said.
"This is a very damning decision, and the Manitoba government has to answer for their actions. We were promised a ban on logging in our beloved provincial parks, and it was not delivered," said Eric Reder, the Wilderness Committee’s Manitoba Campaign Director.
Back in 2011 the Wilderness Committee sought legal clarification on whether, under the newly enacted park logging ban, a logging road is considered logging, and second, whether a logging road is prohibited in a provincial park where logging is banned.
The initial court decision concurred with the Wilderness Committee’s assertion that a logging road can indeed be considered logging, but noted that the building of a logging road was not illegal under the current scheme of legislation. At that point, the application was dismissed.
In the appeal decision, the court ruled that according to the park logging ban, "...it is only commercial timber cutting rights that authorize logging that are restricted... Any tree felling here is necessarily incidental to the construction of the logging road. The primary purpose is not logging," Reder said.
"This has been an extremely draining and very disappointing process. We took the government at their word when they said they were banning logging in provincial parks, but now we’ve seen how far their commitment to protecting parks really goes," said Reder. "The judge did provide us with some vindication though, in agreeing that we were left with no option but to take this to court as a matter of public interest."
The Wilderness Committee is asking that the government rectify the situation by enacting legislation that actually bans logging in provincial parks.