MLA McRae reponds to challenge from NDP environment critic

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming is calling on Comox Valley Liberal MLA Don McRae to defend shellfish jobs in Baynes Sound.



NDP environment critic Rob Fleming is calling on Comox Valley Liberal MLA Don McRae to defend shellfish jobs and to speak out about the proposed Raven underground coal mine in Baynes Sound.

“It’s time for Don McRae to end his silence,” the Victoria-Swan Lake MLA said at the annual Comox Valley NDP fall dinner Saturday at the Filberg Centre. “Hundreds of long-term sustainable jobs would be lost if this mine harms the shellfish industry in Baynes Sound. But so far Mr. McRae won’t even join the community in calling for the strongest form of environmental assessment.”

Fleming, who said he supports sustainable mining based on vigorous environmental standards, claimed Premier Christy Clark and the Liberals want to weaken the environmental assessment process that could allow the mine to proceed without a thorough study of impacts on air quality, water quality, wild salmon and the shellfish industry.

“This is Don McRae’s chance to show he’s learned from the HST fiasco and start listening to constituents,” Fleming said. “He should at least speak out for a strengthened environmental review.”

While the Raven project will “have to stand on its own merits,” McRae said Tuesday in an interview that he is “hugely supportive” of the Baynes Sound shellfish industry.

“If it were to go forward, the mitigation measures have to make sure the shellfish industry is not going to be impacted in a negative way,” McRae said.

He notes the shellfish industry represents $24 million to $28 million a year to the east coast of Vancouver Island, and is sustainable and long-lasting.

“That’s a source of jobs and revenue and West Coast culture we can’t afford to lose,” McRae said. “I’m glad that British Columbia has an environment where people want to try to make opportunity happen.

“We need jobs and investment, but a mine on the east coast of Vancouver Island close to the richest shellfish beds on the coast, and close to large urban populations that don’t have a social licence for the most part for mining, it’s not an easy test.”

McRae said Environment Minister Terry Lake is well aware of the issue, having visited the Valley several times.

Lake has said the environmental assessment process in B.C. is more rigorous than usual.

“At this stage it’s not in the politicians’ hands, it’s in the environmental assessment process, both at the federal and provincial level,” McRae said, noting other mining proposals have taken 17 years to work through and even then are not approved. “There’s no guarantee on when it’s coming forward, or if it’s going to come forward…The Comox Valley isn’t an economically depressed area like some places in central or northwestern British Columbia, and this is not going to save our community.”

He also notes the proponent, Compliance Coal Corporation, needs to respond to about 3,000 public comments about the mine.

“Another step that not normally is in process here is the public now gets to comment on the proponent’s comments,” McRae said.

In terms of politics, McRae said the Opposition is “looking for wedge issues” as it tries to win a riding and form government in B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

LUSH Valley’s partnership with School District 71 this past year helped feed 200 students and families through the Good Food Box program. Screenshot, LUSH Valley/Comox Valley Schools video
LUSH Valley-Comox Valley School Good Food Boxes fed 200 families in 2020

Non-profit organization is looking for new ways to collaborate with school district

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The CVRD building in Courtenay.
Comox Valley organizations in need receive funding

The Comox Valley Regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has approved $55,000 in… Continue reading

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A virtual public hearing for a rezoning application for a Comox property was held on March 3. Black Press file photo
No comments at public hearing for Anderton Road rezoning application

The virtual public hearing was held on March 3 for the Comox properties

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read