Courtenay council joined the Comox Valley Regional District and the Town of Comox in calling for independent studies regarding the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine near Buckley Bay.
Council unanimously passed a resolution this week stating the City is “opposed to the further processing of this application” until the Province conducts independent studies on the possible impacts of a mine on surrounding aquifers and the health of Baynes Sound.
It also calls for the federal Minister of Environment to refer the environmental assessment to an independent review panel with public hearings.
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard moved the resolution and Coun. Jon Ambler promptly said he would be in favour of it.
“There’s a growing concern from everybody I talk to that the cost could be too high,” Ambler said of Courtenay residents.
He then noted a presentation from BC Shellfish Grower’s Association (BCSGA) a couple of weeks ago urging Courtenay to take action on the issue.
“To bring in one industry at the destruction of another is robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he added. “This is not anti-development, this is not anti-industry, this is not anti anything, this is pro, this is protecting an existing industry that’s served us well for 100 years and will continue to serve us well.”
After Coun. Bill Anglin expressed some concern over the City being seen as taking sides on the issue, Leonard said the resolution was only asking for more studies.
“This is simply requesting that that independent information be gathered, that that information inform the decisions on approvals for Compliance (Coal Corporation) — it doesn’t say we’re against it or for it — we’re just saying get that information to give this community confidence,” she said.
Meanwhile, Matthew Wright of the BCSGA welcomed the news that Courtenay passed the resolution.
“We were really happy, especially that it was passed unanimously,” he said. “We’re just really happy to see so much support come out of the Valley.”
CoalWatch Comox Valley also applauded Courtenay.
“I salute the Courtenay council for showing leadership and taking the appropriate measures to work towards safeguarding our precious water resources as well as the critically important local shellfish industry,” said CoalWatch president John Snyder.