Local forest companies will not be making an appearance at the city of Port Alberni’s next council meeting. NEWS FILE PHOTO

Local forest companies will not be making an appearance at the city of Port Alberni’s next council meeting. NEWS FILE PHOTO

Forest companies back out of Alberni council meeting over safety concerns

Timberwest, Island Timberlands have faced heavy criticism over blocked backwoods access

It appears Island forest companies are concerned about the climate surrounding their decision to lock gates to wilderness areas around Port Alberni.

They have pulled out from a planned appearance at Port Alberni’s next council meeting, citing safety concerns.

“For safety reasons, they have withdrawn as a delegation,” said Alicia Puusepp, manager of communications, on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Following concern about locked gates and back road access around the Alberni Valley, the city announced at an Oct. 23 meeting of council that they would be inviting Island Timberlands and TimberWest to a future meeting to discuss the policies of the two companies and to hear public complaints.

READ: City of Port Alberni jumps into locked gate fray

During a Monday, Nov. 29 meeting of council, Councillor Chris Alemany asked when council would be hearing from representatives from local forest companies, and the answer was the Dec. 11 regular meeting of council.

Notices were immediately posted to Facebook about the Dec. 11 meeting, recommending that local forest users attend the meeting—one of which garnered 275 shares over a week.

Puusepp said that the city is still in discussions with Island Timberlands and TimberWest to see how they can most effectively work with citizens. A meeting between the city, the forest companies and the public is not completely off the table, but it may not happen in a council chamber setting.

“At this point they need to determine what is the most appropriate venue or forum to hold this discussion,” said Puusepp.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com