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.

ROB FLEMING

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.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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

Just Posted

Comox Valley bylaw officers to keep eye on distancing practices at hot spots

They will be patrolling regional parks, trails to educate and response to any complaints

BC Hydro water supply forecast showing 78 per cent of normal for Comox Valley

This is the fourth year where the February to March period has had well below normal precipitation.

Comox Valley RCMP see increase in non-violent family disputes during pandemic

“It’s important to remember that help and support are still available for those who need it.”

Despite social distancing, Comox Valley Hospice Society ensures services for those in need

Services have been modified, but staff and volunteers are still actively providing compassion.

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Most Read