End of An Era for B.C. Campground
At the waterfront campground in Jordan River, British Columbia, provided by Western Forest Products (WFP), tourists lazed in the sun this week, taking in the spectacular ocean views and watching a passing whale.
But campers and surfers, who prize the waves that roll onto the pebbled beaches west of Victoria, are looking at the end of an era, according to the Victoria Times Colonist.
The area containing the campground, the West Coast Surfing Associates huts, beaches, headlands and surrounding hills are up for sale.
Western Forest Products was given government approval this year to sell thousands of acres near the tiny community of Jordan River.
When B.C. Forests Minister Rich Coleman announced the deal “to bring stability to the company,” he was accused of bailing out the firm without getting fair value for taxpayers.
Environmentalists, such as Ken Wu of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, are aghast that one of the few unspoiled areas within reach of Greater Victoria is threatened with “urban sprawl.”
Forests critic Bob Simpson said the decision means communities have lost control over some of the most sensitive sites on southern Vancouver Island.
As property values soar, companies such as Western Forest Products are turning into real estate companies rather than forest companies, Simpson said.
“Now, it’s just a private land transaction. There’s no environmental review process that has to take place, there’s no economic impact analysis, there’s no worker adjustment strategy,” he said.
“You’re going to have potential watershed impacts and viewscape impacts.”
Duncan Kerr, WFP chief operating officer, said the land is being sold with the timber standing so it does not limit options for buyers.
It has not been decided whether the proceeds will be invested in the company or go to pay down its debt – believed to be about $200 million.