Baynes Sound coal mine would come with lasting environmental damage

Dear editor,
I like to believe that the majority of people who live in the Comox Valley care about their environment.
The reason many of us moved here was for the natural beauty of the place, the fresh clean air, the pure water and the wonderful recreational activities.

Dear editor,

I like to believe that the majority of people who live in the Comox Valley care about their environment.

The reason many of us moved here was for the natural beauty of the place, the fresh clean air, the pure water and the wonderful recreational activities.

I like to believe that most people, given a choice, would never choose to have a coal mine in their backyard, polluting their water and their air, and endangering the things they hold dear. I like to think that people would stand up and say no to a coal mine upstream of Comox Lake and their drinking water. I like to think that given a choice, we would not choose to dump millions of tonnes of CO2 and methane gas into the atmosphere.

I need to believe that people would not trade all of the best things about the Valley for a few short-term jobs. The coal mine is not a long-term sustainable job, but it will cause long-term environmental damage.

People need to realize that there are not sufficient regulations and mines and environmental inspectors to protect us from the adverse effects of this coal mine. It is a fantasy to believe otherwise.

If you want to see how beneficial mines are to communities, take a look at the Britannia Beach mine. Acid mine drainage was poisoning drinking water and pouring into Howe Sound, so government had to build a $20-million water treatment plant.  It has been estimated that the reclamation program will cost $100 million over 20 years, and that the acid mine drainage will continue for hundreds of years.

Guess who pays for that? That’s right, you and me. Britannia Beach is hardly a destination resort.

Approximately $6 million from taxpayers and thousands of volunteer hours have been spent to remediate the abandoned copper mine on Mount Washington and save the Tsolum River.

Port Hardy had the Island Copper Mine. A total of 900 people worked there, moving an astounding billion tonnes of material over the life of the mine, and pumping 400 million tonnes of toxic mine tailings into Rupert Arm.

The mine pulled up stakes and left town. Businesses are boarded up and the once-thriving town is struggling to survive.

Quinsam Coal has a settlement pond above Long Lake. Long Lake has 620 ppm (parts per million) of arsenic, up from 230 ppm 10 years ago.

This arsenic has been proven to be bio-available, which means eventually it will make it’s way into rivers and creeks and groundwater, poisoning fish, animals,and people.

This is not fear-mongering. These are facts. Citizens have very good reason to be concerned about the proposed Raven and Bear mines. Our health is not for sale at any price.

Some people like to denigrate activists as if they are some radical fringe group freaks. I can assure you that this large group of  people come from a broad spectrum of the population.

An activist is a person who takes action to make changes. We can thank activists for winning the vote for women in Canada in 1917, for finally giving First Nations people the right to vote federally in 1960(!), for integration, for labor laws, for human rights, for health care, for education for all and many of the services we have today.

Activists take time to educate themselves on the issues and then act, whether it is by writing letters, attending public meetings, and sometimes, when all else fails, by civil disobedience.

This planet is in trouble. Anyone who denies that climate change is happening at an accelerating rate has not been paying attention.

There are massive floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes, the polar ice caps are melting, oceans are acidified, coral reefs are dying and mass extinctions loom.

We have a choice to decide that we want a brighter future for our children and generations to follow.

Lynne Wheeler,

Fanny Bay

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