Terra Nova MHA and Town of Port Blandford at odds over clearcut­ting is­sue

So­cial me­dia com­ments fired back-and-forth be­tween Mayor and MHA

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - BY JONATHAN PAR­SONS

As cit­i­zens in Port Blandford con­tinue their lobby against clearcut­ting in their area, dis­cord has brewed be­tween the town coun­cil and Terra Nova MHA Colin Hol­loway.

In a Face­book post on March 27, MHA Hol­loway cited his dis­ap­point­ment with the com­mit­tee against clearcut­ting and the town.

In his post on so­cial me­dia, MHA Hol­loway says he’s been work­ing to help find a so­lu­tion, but has been met with “ridicule and po­lit­i­cal back­lash.”

The MHA is also a res­i­dent of Port Blandford.

Since Fe­bru­ary, a lo­cal com­mit­tee and the town have been fight­ing to prevent planned clearcut­ting around and in the com­mu­nity in zone 2, in­clud­ing the South­west River Valley. They’ve met with the min­is­ter of the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources Gerry Byrne and are propos­ing al­ter­na­tives to clearcut­ting.

The com­mu­nity is plan­ning to re­zone a large area slated for cut­ting within town bound­aries as re­cre­ational so that cut­ting will only be al­lowed un­der per­mit­ted use.

Amongst his other com­plaints on his Face­book post the MHA noted: the town has ac­tu­ally been aware of the im­pend­ing cut­ting plans and are now chang­ing their tune; the re­zon­ing plan is go­ing to take longer than led to be­lieve by coun­cil; and coun­cil can­not “su­per­sede pro­vin­cial law.”

The MHA’s so­cial me­dia post prompted Port Blandford Mayor Chad Hol­loway and the town to is­sue a news re­lease in re­sponse.

In the March 28 re­lease, Mayor Hol­loway called the MHA’s state­ments “mis­lead­ing, in­ac­cu­rate and ir­re­spon­si­ble.”

Mayor Hol­loway says the town coun­cil never de­nied know­ing about the planned cut­ting, but they did not know the ex­tent of the har­vest­ing pro­posed.

“The Town has been en­gaged with the for­est man­age­ment plan­ning process for over 20 years as the 2017-21 five-year op­er­at­ing plan is the fifth man­age­ment plan ap­proved by Coun­cil. For decades, the Town of Port Blandford has sup­ported small-scale cut­ting in the South­west River … In de­vel­op­ing these plans, the Town has al­ways ad­vo­cated against large scale clear-cut­ting in the com­mu­nity and has al­ways asked that the views­capes around the com­mu­nity be pro­tected,” the mayor stated in his re­lease.

In an in­ter­view with The Packet last Thurs­day, MHA Hol­loway said he’s been work­ing on the clearcut­ting is­sue since it was brought to his at­ten­tion in Fe­bru­ary.

Ac­cord­ing to the MHA, the mat­ter, in terms of plan­ning and cor­re­spon­dence, goes back to early 2016 and the town did not take ac­tion against clearcut­ting un­til lo­cal cit­i­zens raised con­cerns this year.

The MHA says coun­cil’s pre­vi­ous con­cerns were al­layed last year when they viewed pre­vi­ous maps pro­vided by govern­ment, as long as there was no con­flict

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