After nearly four years of controversy over the proposed Raven Coal Mine, we now see a proliferation of exploration applications throughout the Comox Valley and further north.
It really is time to decided if we, the citizens, want to live in a coal-induced wasteland or not.
The justification for increased mining activity by our two senior levels of government is firstly, jobs and secondly, tax money.
The mining industry generally ranks at the absolute bottom of the employment statistics nationally and provincially. In B.C., resource extraction is ranked bottom, behind even culture and sport, as an employer. (Source: BC stats).
2. Financial tax benefits.
The value of mining as a source of funding for government coffers is highly questionable and undoubtedly overstated.
There is a cumulative cost associated with mining which should be recognized and given monetary value reflected in stated tax benefits.
These cumulative costs would include:
• Damage to the environment;
• Irrecoverable costs of pollution created by defunct and abandoned mines;
• Harm to existing industries. I.e. (shellfish and tourism);
• Unnecessary contribution to climate change and related health issues.
Some of these issues are clearly demonstrated in two local illustrations.
Firstly, the Tsolum River — grievously harmed by a bankrupt mining company — has cost millions of dollars, many years and countless volunteer hours to remediate to the point where it can begin to support salmon reproduction.
Secondly, Union Bay is to this day designated one of the most polluted sites in B.C.
Again, millions of taxpayer dollars will be required to remediate the damage from the long-departed coal industries responsible.
Canada and B.C. both lag well behind other First World jurisdictions in terms of new and sustainable industries. It is in new and sustainable industries that our real hopes of well-paying jobs lies.
Our governments seem hell bent on consigning us to being the “hewers of wood” with dying industries that will leave nothing but economic and ecological degradation here and abroad.
It is high time we told our leaders to take some of the millions of dollars they provide to these industries and invest those dollars in a future that provides long-term employment and protects this beautiful Valley.