Saving Avatar Grove - A Unique Forest Slated for Logging

By Carole Pearson

Old Growth ForestA few miles outside Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island is a 10-hectare site where some of the last remaining old growth forest on the island can be found. Much of the surrounding Gordon River Valley has already been logged. The enormous stumps left behind are testament to the size of some of the  giant trees already taken.

This particular grove of trees was discovered in December 2009 by photographer and environmentalist TJ Watt. It happened after of a day of hiking, specifically looking for old growth forest. Watt spotted the tell-tale forked tops of old growth cedars on a hillside and moved in for a closer look. “As soon as we stepped into the forest we knew we had found something exceptional,” he recalls.

Watt has actively campaigned for the protection of BC's old growth forests for many years.
“We've lost 96 percent of the valley bottom old-growth on southern Vancouver Island so to find an area like this within the remaining four percent and have it be so close to town and a paved road was just unbelievable,” says Watt.

Within weeks, Watt and other prominent local activists created the Ancient Forest Alliance, a group that has since grown to more than 8000 members. Ken Wu, the group’s campaign director, is no newcomer to the old growth forest issue, either. Both Watt and Wu were formerly involved with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee's Victoria office.



By Tom Sandborn

Denny's Activism
A recent BC class action suit targeting the Canadian firm that operates the Denny’s franchise in Western Canada says that the over 50 Filipino workers who came to Canada to work for the firm were denied even the minimal protections of the existing Canadian programs, the Memorandum of Agreement between the BC government and Philippine governments and applicable BC labour law.

The suit, filed January 7, alleges that recruitment agents acting for the Canadian firm Northland Property Corporation (which is the exclusive western Canadian franchisee for the US based Denny’s Corporation) charged workers up to $6,000.00 each for placing them in the Canadian jobs and required them to pay for their own transportation costs to and from the Philippines. Both expenses, the suit claims, should have been borne by the employer.              

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Fracking for oil in northern BC not worth serious health and environmental risks

By Ben Parfitt

FrackingEarly last year, an army of workers at a remote natural gas operation in northern British Columbia set a world record for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a procedure that is rapidly becoming the norm in the global gas industry.

They pumped nearly 400 Olympic swimming pools worth of water along with 500,000 kilograms of sand underground to fracture deeply buried shale rock, thereby releasing its trapped gas.

As fracking becomes more common, people living in natural gas-rich northeast BC are increasingly alarmed over the associated public health and safety risks.

As fracking becomes more common, people living in natural gas-rich northeast BC are increasingly alarmed over the associated public health and safety risks.

The pressure at which water, sand and undisclosed chemicals is pumped belowground is so intense that it triggers tiny earthquakes. In using such brute force, unforeseen and unwelcome problems can — and do — surface elsewhere, problems that may include dangerous releases of gas containing hydrogen sulphide, also known as sour gas.

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