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Business owners ask for pause of clearcut logging plans in Alberta’s Highwood River Valley

A total of 49 businesses east of Kananaskis Country have now signed a letter asking for a pause in clearcut logging near Highwood Junction.

MEDIA RELEASE | Oct. 18, 2017

A total of 49 businesses in the region east of Kananaskis Country have now signed letters supporting a pause in clearcut logging plans in the vicinity of Highwood Junction.

The letters are addressed to the Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, and the Honourable Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Signatories from towns such as Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Longview, High River and Okotoks, are concerned the logging would decrease tourism in the area and affect their businesses.

The letter stresses the importance of Kananaskis Country’s tourism draw in the diversified economy of Alberta and the important role that local small business owners play in that economy.

“As a small business owner in Longview, Alberta, the comment I hear most often from visitors is about appreciation for the beauty and pristine wilderness of the landscape to the west and south of the town,” says Donna Wilson, owner of Garside Wilson Gallery.

“The community of Longview is slowly becoming a destination for recreational travellers. The small businesses count on people coming to the area to enjoy the unspoiled beauty. By allowing devastation to the wilderness areas we are impacting not only the well-being of our environment but our economic growth as well,” she says. 

B.C.-based Balcaen Consolidated Contracting Ltd. proposes clear-cutting more than 400 hectares near Highwood Junction at the intersection of Highways 40, 940 and 541 — a popular recreational area of Kananaskis Country.

Road-building for the clearcuts is scheduled to begin in late October or early November pending approval of the company’s area operating plan by the government.

In the letter signed by the businesses, they cite their support for the grassroots group Take a Stand for the Upper Highwood, as well as Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and CPAWS Southern Alberta.

These groups are advocating for a pause on logging plans in the area so that a broader conversation can be had about how logging in southern Alberta’s Eastern Slopes will be done moving forward. This would occur through the subregional planning process slated to begin in late 2017 for this area.

James Lee, owner of Black Diamond’s Windridge Construction Ltd., has lived and hiked in the area for 45 years.

“This ill-fated initiative affects my business in a host of ways. The main one being that by doing this the government is eroding the very reasons that brings people to reside in this area, resulting in a scarcity of building opportunities,” he says. “One would think that moderated, selective sustainable logging would be the better option. Don't remove the clean air filters, the natural habitat, and the hiking areas that make Alberta a special place to live in.” 

“Being a fishing and hunting retail store owner for 17 years in High River, we have seen many changes to the fisheries around us,” says Udo Stey, owner of Flys Etc.

“Logging will put further pressure on the remaining fish stocks. Our business depends on people going to fish and hunt in the area around us. Responsible logging is an option. This should be planned together with everyone sitting at the table,” he says. 

The letters also cite support for motion 511 written by Banff-Cochrane MLA Cam Westhead and put forth in the Legislature in 2016 that reads, “Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to increase its efforts to conserve and manage public lands in Alberta’s headwater regions to optimize downstream water security for future generations of Albertans.”

These businesses add their voices to support of a logging pause, joining the municipal councils of Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Longview.

This summer, each council for these communities sent letters to the Premier calling on the government to pause the logging plans for Highwood Junction.

Letter text can be read here. The businesses that have sent letters include:

Blackie

  • Little Ada Bow Company
  • Living Prairie Farms

Black Diamond

  • Bluerock Gallery
  • Country Food Mart
  • DGK Contracting
  • Diamond Valley Chiropractic
  • Lori’s Looking Glass
  • Lozinsky Law and Mediation
  • Salus Wellness Centre Inc.
  • Sheep River Crossing
  • Vale's Greenhouse
  • The Westwood
  • Windridge Construction Ltd.

Bragg Creek

  • Woodland West

Calgary: 

  • Ginger Laurier
  • Fish Tales Fly Shop
  • Traditional Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Doctor

Cayley

  • Mountain View Honey  

High River

  • A River Ran Through It Café
  • Abbeyfield House, High River
  • Art Effects Creative Framing
  • Fjorryn Crystals
  • Flys Etc.
  • Foothills Family Chiropractic
  • High River Vet Clinic
  • Miss Piggy’s Food Truck
  • Red Bag Imports Inc.
  • Seven Seas Trading Company Ltd.
  • Total Auto Care
  • White Bull Clothing Co.

Longview

  • Garside Wilson Gallery
  • The Haywire
  • Longview Beef Jerky
  • The Lost American Art Gallery
  • McLennan Fly Fishing
  • Twin Cities Hotel

Okotoks 

  • Brian H. Fea Professional Corporation
  • Janifer Calvez Art
  • Jules Accounting Services
  • Lineham House Galleries
  • M Campbell Bookkeeping Services
  • R. Double M. Holdings Inc.
  • Results Unlimited

Turner Valley

  • CoCreative Designs
  • Cougar’s Sports Bar
  • Country Store Diner
  • Motorrad Performance
  • Valley Cold Beer and Liquor
  • Wolfpack Studio

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