EDITORIAL: Politicians had better listen carefully to opposition to Raven coal mine

The Raven underground coal mine will be an issue, at least on the mid-Island, in the next B.C. election. Politicians had better listen carefully to the opposition.

Almost 2,000 people submitted thoughts during the 30-day public comment period about the Raven underground coal mine.

There is some support in the Comox Valley for the mine, based on the current shortage of high-paying jobs in the area.

A retail- and tourism-dominated economy makes it tough to keep our youth close to home and to attract residents other than retirement-minded Albertans.

While we enjoy clean air and water, the limited industrial tax base means local governments must plunder the wallets of retailers and homeowners for the services we expect.

Is the eventual decision about the mine a simple choice between economy and environment?

Also, with Gordon Campbell departed, has the B.C. Liberals’ zeal for mining gone with him? The majority of about 1,500 speakers at public meetings in Courtenay, Port Alberni and Union Bay who made their objections clearly hope so.

The Comox-based B.C. Shellfish Growers’ Association and anybody who relies on the half of B.C. shellfish farms that are in Baynes Sound are deeply worried about mine runoff from the creeks between Union Bay and Fanny Bay. A key point of the BCSGA’s marketing campaign is the pristine water in which its product is grown.

Salmon advocacy groups are rightly concerned about how a mine might damage habitat in those creeks, further hurting already-threatened stocks.

Concern by the K’ómoks Band and the fact it is still negotiating a treaty is the latest wild card, which could easily stall progress toward an eventual mine.

The mine will be an issue, at least on the mid-Island, in the next B.C. election. Politicians had better listen carefully to the opposition.

We hope MLA Don McRae is lobbying in Victoria to tell the environment minister what people here are thinking about this risky project with big downside in a populated area.



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