Uncivil Servant Alert

Mr. Steve Webb
Woodlands Manager
BC Timber Sales
1265 Dalhousie Drive
Kamloops, B.C. V2C 5Z5

8 February 2017

Dear Steve Webb:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Upper Clearwater Referral Group concerning an incident that has recently come to light through Freedom of Information Request FNR-2016-62778.

As this incident implicates you in behaviour unbecoming of a B.C. government employee, I begin by gesturing to the courteous, upstanding, highly professional conduct of a great majority of your colleagues in the B.C. Public Service.

The incident recounted below may seem to you of little importance; but the Referral Group disagrees. Sowing seeds of divisiveness in a small community whose strength depends on the ability of its citizens to work together undermines, we think, considerably more than the reputation of a single individual or citizen group.

* * *

On 8 December 2015, one of your staff members at B.C. Timber Sales sent the following e-mail message to the owners of a local forestry company that had recently won a bid to create a large clearcut – A89947 – on the western slopes of the Upper Clearwater Valley.

“Just a heads up that Steve [Webb] chatted with Trevor Goward yesterday (he called for another reason) but also to give him the heads up that there is some more logging that will be taking place this winter on the west side of the Clearwater River. This sale was sold before the Referral Group came together with their new name. They were referred to previously and no response was given back.

“I don’t think there will be any road blocks that will happen but may have some lookey loos hanging around as the block is being harvested or things said around town.

“I know [you will do your best to manage] this block as it could become an Upper Clearwater issue. Visuals have been completed on this area and we are well within our visual landscape sensitivities. The referral group has taken it upon themselves to try to manage the visual landscape in their eyes and not what has been done in the Kamloops LRMP.

“If you have any issues please let us know so we can deal with them. I just wanted to give you a heads up so that you aren’t caught off guard by anything.”

In light of the factual errors and false allegations contained in this message, it seems fair to ask how your staff member acquired this information. In fact she received it in an e-mail from you, sent shortly after chatting with me by phone the previous day. Accordingly the following comments are addressed to you.

(1) “Just a heads up that Steve [Webb] chatted with Trevor Goward yesterday.”

To single me out like this creates a false opposition to this company’s decision to bid on block A89947 – when as you know my frustration was entirely directed at BC Timber Sales for having developed this cutblock without input from local residents.

(2) “This sale was sold before the Referral Group came together with their new name.”

Your staff member is confused here, apparently having in mind the Wells Gray Action Committee. The Referral Group has never changed its name.

(3) “They were referred to previously and no response was given back.”

If a letter of referral was ever written by B.C. Timber Sales to the Referral Group, it was never received. But surely BCTS doesn’t take the position that sending a single letter qualifies as due diligence in such a case?

(4) “The referral group has taken it upon themselves to try to manage the visual landscape in their eyes and not what has been done in the Kamloops LRMP.”

Actually no: The Upper Clearwater Referral Group is a citizen committee established by the B.C. Ministry of Forests (MoF) in 2000 and mandated to act as liaison between industry, government and local residents with regard to proposed forestry initiatives in the Upper Clearwater Valley.

Far from working in opposition to the Kamloops LRMP, the Referral Group is watchdog to a formal land-use agreement called the Guiding Principles for the Management of Land and Resources in the Upper Clearwater Valley, originally conceived as a Local Use Plan under the Kamloops LRMP.

* * *

At this point it seems appropriate to call your attention to the Wells Gray Chronicles, which documents, among other things, numerous instances of government duplicity, betrayal and, indeed, professional incompetence visited upon Upper Clearwater in recent years – almost all at the hands of civil servants who for whatever reason prefer to privilege short-term business interests over the long-term interests of local residents.

The Referral Group takes the position that you and your staff member would do well in future to refrain from branding as “the enemy” a citizen committee that has been working on behalf of the Upper Clearwater Guiding Principles agreement for longer than BC Timber Sales itself has been in existence.

Given that working relationships of any kind must be founded on trust, it is unfortunate indeed that your behaviour out of the gate has so completely undermined whatever trust the Referral Group might otherwise have been pleased to accord you (and B.C. Timber Sales) as a matter of course.

Sincerely,

Trevor Goward (Spokesperson, Upper Clearwater Referral Group)


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