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Port Blandford mayor objects to province’s plans to use access road for forestry harvesting

Port Blandford Mayor Chad Holloway shows a map of the proposed cutting and explains how rezoning the area will block clearcutting in the region.
Port Blandford Mayor Chad Holloway shows a map of the proposed cutting and explains how rezoning the area will block clearcutting in the region in 2018. - Jonathan Parsons
PORT BLANDFORD, N.L. —

Port Blandford Mayor Chad Holloway said the province’s most recent attempt to access nearby forest for harvesting is both against zoning regulations and dangerous on the highway through town.
In an interview with The Packet, Holloway said he found out last month the department of fisheries and land resources wanted to approve harvesting activity in the area surrounding Port Blandford.
The clearcutting debate has a storied history for the town.
In the beginning of 2018, many residents of the area protested clearcutting and advocated the prevention of planned harvesting both inside and around Port Blandford boundaries.
After many public consultations and communications with the province, the town of Port Blandford opted to rezone the areas within the town marked for cutting, and to prevent harvesters from using a resource road in the town to access the cabin country area near the outside of the town. It cited the road’s designated use did not allow for commercial forestry activity.
“There is proper permitting that needs to take place, and in our opinion, it wasn’t followed properly,” said Holloway.
The road in question, located off the Trans Canada Highway, but still within the town boundaries, was built by Nalcor during pole line installations and left intact after completion.
“We had some issues with it anyway, because that’s not what that road was ever intended for,” explained Holloway.
Holloway said the town was contacted about the intent to harvest in the area outside the municipal limits, but the road they’ll be using presents issues for the town.
“There’s a lot of forest in Newfoundland and we’re only asking for a few square kilometres to be preserved, basically, as part of our tourism product.”
Holloway also said it’s too dangerous to have large commercial logging vehicles using this road in a 100-kilometre per hour highway intersection area
“It was never intended to be used as a public resource road,” said Holloway.
He said it opens up use of the road as a resource road, with increased traffic creating a potentially dangerous area.
Holloway said the turnoff is located on a hill, on a turn, with reduced sightlines and a large number of cars traveling east to Clarenville and beyond.
The safety of the people coming through Port Blandford is paramount, he said, and due diligence is questioning the safety itself.
In a related matter, Holloway has been actively trying to have the speed limit in the area reduced the last several years — to no avail.
The safety issue is real and not a tactic to stall government’s cutting plans, he said.
“We don’t agree with what they’re doing, creating a dangerous situation.
“But in terms of the clearcutting piece? They know where the town stands on that. We’re not in favour of any type of harvesting in the Southwest River Valley; they know the residents are not in favour of harvesting in the Southwest River Valley.”
He calls this argument “preventive measures” to try and stop an accident before it happens, especially since it would be Port Blandford’s fire department responding to any potential collision.
The whole situation makes Holloway wonder why the province is continually pursuing cutting in this particular area.
“Not only are you going to go ahead with it, but you’re going to create a dangerous situation to get this.”
Holloway said if the town’s concerns aren’t taken seriously, they will take legal action to make sure the issue is at the forefront.
The Packet contacted the department of fisheries and land resources for comment; however, there was no reply as of editorial deadline.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca
Twitter: @jejparsons


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