BC Real Estate Values To Be Affected By Logging…and Moving Water
As the world braces for the oncoming impacts of climate change and the insurance, finance and real estate industries adapt their policies to protect themselves against suddenly changing property valuations, BC seems to be dragging its feet and consciously ignoring the dangers present around our own communities.
Maybe we think we’re immune to the effects of climate change. Maybe we just look up at the “beauty strips” surrounding our communities and thank our lucky stars that we live in “Beautiful BC”. Maybe its more convenient to blame other factors than an archaic forest policy and a government captured by industry for our poor water management and ever more frequent flooding. I’m not picking on the NDP. They are as guilty as the Liberals.
What is a beauty strip? – the term for the tract of un-logged forest that is left around communities and public roadways to make the public and our tourists think that they are living in an intact, well managed forest. Climb up to the top of your local ridge and you may be surprised to see the patchwork of clear cutting on the other side.
Water? What Water?
Ask the people of Grand Forks how they feel about what BC Premier John Horgan calls a “Sustainable Forest industry”. Those that lost their retirement savings, their livelihood and their community infrastructure in that epic flood must consider the Premier daft. Heavy snow packs, no trees to hold the water, open space and direct sunlight on clear cut land speeds the melting, rushing the runoff down toward the town.
According to Anthony Britneff, a retired senior official for the B.C. Forest Service, we can expect more of this to come.
This year the BC government has plans to study links between logging (meaning clear cut in BC) and flooding, however these reports will not produce new legislative requirements. Convenient for a government content to lick crumbs from the fingers of its forest industry masters.
Astonishingly there aren’t adequate legal obligations for major forestry companies to consider downstream flooding when harvesting watersheds. The BC Forest Practices Board has put together a list of voluntary guidelines that it hopes the forest industry will follow. My disdain for this level of naiveté cannot be expressed in words.
Yes, you read that correct folks, two sentences back I wrote that industry is harvesting our watersheds. Watersheds only account for 1.5% of the province’s land base but the forest companies are clear cutting watersheds at a frenzied pace.
Forward thinking places with courage enough to defend their turf like Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland and New York City prohibit logging in their watersheds. Clear water flows into these cities and their water treatment plants can easily, and at minimal cost, treat and distribute clean water to residents.
The cleaner the water that comes from source, the lower the cost to taxpayers to treat and distribute water. Dirtier water means higher cost to treat, plus higher costs from faster deterioration of water treatment and distribution infrastructure. None of this cost falls on the shoulders of the already government subsidized forest industry. These costs fall directly to the local taxpayer.
The Costs of a Damaged / Eliminated Watershed
Peachland, BC’s new water treatment facility will cost this town of 5,400 residents a whopping $24 million dollars. $4,444 per resident (yes, I’m sure we will get a grant from the Feds and the Province. Problem is…this is happening all over the province. West Kelowna, right down the highway and victim of the same watershed eradication, has an upcoming water treatment facility bill in the neighbourhood of $50-70 million. I’m guessing Horgan will forget to ask the forest industry to compensate Peachland and West K for this costly externality.)
And a new water treatment plant doesn’t guarantee clean, clear water. Water treatment techniques are affected by turbid water so we may spend $24 million in little ole Peachland and still have to boil parasites out of our water.
Once the watershed is logged and the forest industry takes the money and runs, government / taxpayers are left footing a massive bill while presiding over the 60-100 year rehabilitation of their desecrated watershed. I haven’t even mentioned the health costs of poor water, the administrative expenses of monitoring and notifying the community of boil water advisories or the environmental consequences of habitat destruction on our doorstep.
Wildlife in BC Communities
Anyone noticed more wildlife in our communities? Deer running around in town? Coyotes eating your pets? This is because logging and government complacency have destroyed their home in the surrounding watershed. Now they are moving into ours.
What does the Peachland mayor, Cindy Fortin, have to say about all this?
“A moratorium on logging was far too lofty a goal. Collaboration between logging companies was what was needed.”
The elected representatives in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland and New York City didn’t deem this goal too lofty. They protected their communities’ natural resource. Period.
I hope citizens and society soon tire of electing soft politicians and stop “collaborating” with corporations that reap direct benefits from their extractive activities while accruing few consequences from risky actions that effect downstream communities and cost those communities money. I’m referring to the forest industry here but this last sentence could apply to many marauding organizations worldwide.
The Tree Farm Industry
By the way, we shouldn’t call it the forest industry. The Tree Farm Industry is more appropriate. Clear cutting a forest then “replanting” it with a mono-culture tree crop is not replanting a forest. Those that advocate such a position know nothing about the inter-connectivity inherent in a forest. Clear cut a forest, plant a tree farm, what do you get? A mono-culture crop that is defenseless when an infestation, such as bark beetle, manifests itself.
Scientists say you can’t harvest your way out of a bark beetle infestation. Nevertheless, the tree farm industry has accelerated clear cutting in old growth forests all over the province under the cover that this is the way to contain bark beetle infestation.
Diana Six, a bark beetle expert and professor of forest entomology and pathology at the University of Montana says, “Clear-cutting is probably one of the worst things you can do … It reduces the resiliency of those forests to recover. You’re removing the small stuff that could replace that forest, you’re removing most of the ecosystem. You’re removing seed sources. It adds insult to injury, without achieving the goal, if the goal is indeed to help the forest recover or survive the beetles.”
And the merry-go-round of corruption continues.
It won’t take long for the real estate, mortgage and insurance industries to realize the detrimental impacts of these community destabilizing practices and price accordingly. Lower real estate values, lower mortgage loans-to-value and higher insurance rates.
One of my hobbies is blogging about mortgages, debt and government policy. During the day I’m a MORTGAGE BROKER!
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