Mount Elphinstone is in the traditional territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation.
In the 1940’s District Lot 1313 was designated as a Watershed Reserve (Tenure #R112161) to preserve water quality and protect downslope residents. Most properties rely on wells or surface water. The property also borders the recharge area for the Gibsons aquifer, which provides drinking water for thousands of residents of the Town.
This surveyed property is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the Area E Official Community Plan designates it as a park. BC Timber Sales considers it an “urban-rural interface” zone. As recently as 2010, it was not part of BCTS’s Timber Supply Area, but the boundaries of that area were expanded without consultation and the block was added to their Operating Plan in 2013.
Residents and representatives of the Sunshine Coast Regional District have been opposing logging plans ever since.
Downslope properties have longstanding problems with overland flooding. In December 2018, Russell Road was washed out—the second time in four years. In February 2020, nearby Whittaker Creek washed out Lower Road, damaging several homes and prompting a state of emergency declaration. This washout occurred directly below District Lot 1312, logged in 2014, and runoff from the clearcut was a major contributing factor.
Provincial government representatives have not responded to resident complaints or enforced policies on stream diversion and stormwater management. Decisions on land use, including subdivision approval, are made in isolation with no consideration of the cumulative impactson the landscape.
With increasingly intense winter rainstorms, the coast is experiencing severe overload flooding issues, exacerbated by poor development and road building practices, and aging infrastructure. Residents whose homes are damaged are typically not covered by insurance and have no recourse, as no private or public agency takes responsibility. Logging companies in B.C. are not legally responsible for downstream flooding caused when they harvest trees in watersheds.