It’s a video-clip West Coasters are all too familiar with.
By now, most of the Coast has seen the scene of Hawaiin pro-surfer Jamie O’Brien and his Red Bull TV ‘Who is JOB’ film crew performing stunts over a log they had set on fire in what locals believe is Kennedy Lake.
It’s a small portion of the roughly 10-minute video that follows O’Brien and his crew adventuring, surfing and mountain biking around the West Coast showcasing the area’s scenic opportunities.
Locals would undoubtedly have been stoked to see the beauty of their backyard featured on the popular web-based film series, were it not for the environmental ignorance shown by the obvious use of petroleum to light the log on fire.
Instead, local outrage prompted Red Bull TV to remove the first ‘Who is JOB’ video to be filmed on the West Coast from its website nine days after posting it on Aug. 29. The video has since been republished with the flaming log jump scene removed.
The Westerly News reported last week that B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service has concluded its investigation into the incident and will not be pursuing charges against O’Brien or Red Bull.
Josh Temple was appalled by the news.
Temple, a 20-year local who works on the water as a fishing and adventure guide, was one of the first to sound the alarm on the video. He had seen it through social media on Aug. 27 and initially liked what he was watching but, the minute he saw the flaming log, he reported it to the Conservation Office’s RAPP line expecting an investigation to lead to charges.
He told the Westerly News on Sunday that he was “highly disappointed” to hear that wouldn’t be the case.
“My expectation was that they would give this investigation the amount of attention and thoroughness that it deserves,” he said.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect and work closely with DFO and the CO’s but it doesn’t seem to me like this was investigated very thoroughly…Especially considering the sensitive nature of the environment that this stunt was performed in.”
Kennedy Lake is an important watershed and is protected as both a B.C. Park and a Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park. Temple was gobsmacked to read CO sergeant Ben York’s comments in last week’s Westerly suggesting the exact location of the log could not be pinpointed.
“I don’t know how they couldn’t determine where that took place because I told them exactly where it took place.” Temple said adding landmarks in the clip made the location obvious to him.
“By the boat launch at Kennedy Lake, at the mouth of the Kennedy River, you can still see the log…It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that they can’t properly determine where this incident happened.”
He said he could have taken conservation officers to the spot he believes the shot occurred but they never reached out to him and he questioned why they didn’t reach out to the people involved in filming the scene either.
“In my mind, if the CO’s opinion is that this type of activity doesn’t warrant investigation, what kind of message are we sending to future film crews that are going to be doing this type of thing in our environment?” he asked. “I’m appalled that this is how they handled the situation.”
He also questioned how the CO determined the Red Bull crew only doused the log with a small amount of petroleum without knowing how many takes it took to get the shot used in the film.
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly that she hopes film crews eyeing the West Coast in the future will note the public outcry against Red Bull and treat the area with respect.
“I’d like to think this kind of thing isn’t going to happen just because people saw it on Red Bull’s social media and thought ‘Hey, that’s cool. I’m going to go try it at home,’” she said.
“But, anyone who was on social media and paid attention to the reaction from Tofino locals, as well as to the reaction on Red Bull’s Facebook page and Twitter accounts from locals expressly responding to the video, would see they sure shouldn’t try that again in the Tofino area.”
Temple agreed the clear and consistent public outcry sent a strong message but said the absence of any penalty sets a “bad precedent” moving forward and that he would continue pushing for charges to be laid in relation to the video.
“I agree that the public outcry was fantastic. Our community reacted to it appropriately. I think they sent the right message to future film crews that might be thinking about doing the same thing in our area that this is unacceptable to local residents,” he said.
“But, at the same time, I think that the proper authorities have to follow up on something like this because that’s why we have these systems in place…That’s why we have these authorities like DFO and Ministry of Environment that are supposed to be looking after our area and our environment and our watersheds.”