Environmentalists lose legal fight over logging road
An environmental group has lost a court fight to stop forestry company Tolko from building a logging road through a northern Manitoba provincial park.
The Wilderness Committee had asked a judge to clarify the rights granted to Tolko to build the Dickstone Road through Grass River Provincial Park near Flin Flon, Man.
The Manitoba government banned logging in parks in 2009, but Tolko was later granted a licence to build the logging road. Construction began last year.
A Winnipeg judge did not buy The Wilderness Committee's argument that the logging road violates the provincial ban, said Eric Reder, a spokesman for the group.
"As of right now, this morning, the bulldozers are rolling back into our provincial park to resume their destruction," Reder told reporters on Thursday.
Reder said Grass River Provincial Park features boreal wilderness areas and woodland caribou habitats.
'People were lied to'
When the case was being heard in October, a lawyer for the province argued that Tolko's logging road project is lawful because the trees being felled for the road are not technically for commercial purposes.
The Wilderness Committee argued that allowing Tolko to build a logging road is a commercial activity because it helps the company increase its efficiency and profit.
Reder said the law creating the logging ban was badly written, as it allows forestry roads to be built through parks.
"In that case, the Manitoba people were lied to," he said.
Reder said it is too early to say if the court ruling will be appealed.
Manitoba government officials told CBC News that the province has to respect the court's decision.
Tolko, a major employer in northern Manitoba, harvests softwood fibre for both its sawmill and Kraft paper mill.