EDITORIAL: Real Raven debate can start soon

The company's application for a coal mine near Buckley Bay is expected to be submitted by the end of the month

The day is coming soon when those opposed, in favour and undecided about the proposed Raven coal mine will actually have something concrete to debate.

Compliance Coal, the owners of the project proposed for about five kilometres west of the Buckley Bay ferry terminal, are expected to make their formal application to the provincial government by the end of the month.

That application will have environmental assessments, although there will undoubtedly be arguments over that science, who completed it and its methodology, etc.

At least there will be something to deal with, for the government and the general public. Up to now, it’s been about posturing and conjecture. Certainly much of this posturing and conjecture — from all sides of the debate — has been based on history and some science, but until the real application is in the government’s hands and the time for official public debate begins, the arguments can only be general in nature.

It’s a political hot potato, at least that is certain. And with a provincial election looming, this will be one of the hottest issues in many constituencies on Vancouver Island.

As you can read from our story today, most candidates are being careful about what they say about the project. Regardless of political stripe, they all say the local environment must be protected. Because it’s election time, the NDP are also attacking the process and the B.C. Liberals, but again, the meat of the issue will be in the science.

We will not pretend to be scientists. We are, however, attracted by the possibility of hundreds of well-paying jobs in our part of the Island for a couple of decades. However, the creation of these jobs makes absolutely no sense if it has the effect of eliminating hundreds of current jobs in what’s become a fabulous industry here, aquaculture. Safety and wear/tear on our road system from three loaded trucks an hour, 24 hours a day, is also something that needs to be seriously addressed.

We don’t believe a huge project like this can be either dismissed, or endorsed, quickly and purely on principals like ‘no coal mines ever again’ or ‘we need the jobs, period.’

That’s pure rhetoric. We are hopeful the submission of the application will provide some meat to the debate for all sides.

— Editorial by John Harding

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