Taxpayers cover mining fallout

With great interest I, as well as many others, have been following our provincial government’s move toward increasing mineral extraction in British Columbia.

Dear editor,

With great interest I, as well as many others, have been following our provincial government’s move toward increasing mineral extraction in British Columbia.

It is understandable that Minister Coell (Environment) and his people believe that our current laws and regulations will protect the citizens of this province from environmental degradation. I find it timely to mention that the politicians before Mr. Coell had the very same beliefs and attitudes years ago, and as you know, we are paying for them dearly now.

Case in point, the abandoned Mount Washington copper mine.

I quote Mr. Coell: “The province was pleased to commit $4.5 million to help restore the health and productivity of the Tsolum River so future generations can enjoy.”

I believe the $4.5 million to be money well spent. The problem is, the government then didn’t see the endless possibilities of failure, and quite frankly, I don’t think the process now is seriously taking into consideration the cons of such endeavours at this date in history, either.

The Raven Coal Mine in Fanny Bay is such a project. If one is to do a pro and con list of such a venture, the possibilities on the pro side can be counted probably on one hand, whereas the possibilities on the con/risk side cannot be counted on the sum total of all fingers and toes.

The words used by Compliance and accepted by our provincial government, “mitigate,” after such errors are discovered are not acceptable by the taxpayer. Our children’s health, our property values, and lives are at stake.

I again quote Mr. Coell: “The Tsolum River Partnership is a great example of how much we can achieve when we all work together to protect B.C.’s vital waterways.”

I fail to see any partnership occurring with protection of the watershed in Fanny Bay that leads into Baynes Sound in advance of the problems occurring. Does the partnership only exist after the damage has been done?

Why would we risk such? Does the overall health of a community not outweigh money-making for a few individuals?

Mining leaves a trail of destruction; it always has and always will. The after-effects sometimes can take decades to be felt and even centuries to clean up.

It doesn’t matter how much money Compliance puts up front for the cleanup, it will never be enough. This project is so small in terms of the actual coal realized from the event (approximately 40 per cent), but yet so large with the piles of tailings to be left behind (approximately 60 per cent), that it boggles the mind why the process has even gotten this far.

Understandably, coal prices are at an all-time high, but what if they drop? What if Compliance abandons? How many millions of taxpayer dollars will a future minister of the environment have to put out?

I really feel that my/our tax dollars would be better spent elsewhere. You know as well as I that even if it runs its full course of 16 years, there will be repercussions.

How can we delude ourselves into thinking anything other with the track record out there?

A proper, rightful, independent joint panel review is the only rational decision to be made by our government; to omit this from the process is delinquent.

It is the responsibility of our politicians to ensure elimination of fall-out before the mines are up and running.

There is a predominance of people in this community opposed to the project, for a multitude of good reasons. I believe the opposition is the majority of the whole in the Comox Valley.

People are not interested in risking drinking water, clean air, and highway accidents. I ask that our government take stock, and you will see that those people that live in proximity to coal mines are not doing so well.

Marc Gaudreau,

Fanny Bay