Blockade against logging work hurts legal stance

Setting up a blockade has hindered rather than helped members of an aboriginal band who have been trying to stop a logging operation north of Fort St. James.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Duncan granted a logging company an injunction allowing the work to go ahead, saying not doing so "would condone the pursuit of self-help remedies" as opposed to dealing with the matter "in the proper forum between the proper parties."

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Duncan issued the injunction on Oct. 12, after hearing arguments the day before, and released her reasons for judgment on Wednesday.

Vanderhoof-based D.N.T. Contracting Ltd. was seeking the injunction preventing members of the Takla Lake First Nations from blocking efforts to harvest timber from four cutblocks covering 357 hectares about a 2 1/2-hour drive north of Fort St. James.

B.C. Timber Sales awarded D.N.T. a licence to log the area in January 2015 but the two were then notified of a pending burial ceremony in the vicinity and work was deferred. Harvesting resumed in July, but D.N.T. soon a blockade near the junction of Driftwood and Fall-Tsayta forest services roads. Told to cease all operations within 50-kilometres of a burial site on the Fall-Tsayta during a mourning period D.N.T. it complied.

Attempts in March and April this year to discuss resuming operations with Takla were not successful and in September, D.N.T. paid nearly $70,000 in fees to extend the licence. That same month, work resumed but two days later another blockade was established, prompting D.N.T. to go seek the injunction from the court.

On the same day as the Oct. 11 hearing, Takla filed a lawsuit alleging the band was not property consulted before D.N.T. was granted the licence. B.C. Timber Sales and its manager for the Stuart-Nechako area are named as defendants, as is D.N.T.

That matter remains before the court.

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