The disaster at the Mount Polley mine should surprise no one.
The Liberal government campaigned on a mining agenda, promising miners huge tax cuts, massive hydro infrastructure and limited environmental assessments.
Although Mary Polak, the Minister of the Environment, initially denied it, since the Liberal government took office in 2001, mine inspections have been cut in half.
The engineering company that designed the dam told Imperial Metals, the mine’s owner, that the amount of water in the pond was signficantly larger than it was designed to accommodate and resigned as the engineers of record.
Now Imperial Metals is hinting that it may not be able to pay for the clean-up of the Mount Polley spill, which would likely leave the taxpayers of BC to cover the costs.
All of this is important to the Comox Valley because Texada Quarries has been granted the right to increase its coal storage capacity tenfold. It will be used to store U.S. thermal coal-bound for China.
According to Derek Corrigan, the Mayor of Burnaby, although the coal is from the U.S., American ports refuse to handle it. The approval of this coal project comes from Port Metro Vancouver, a federal authority whose directors are appointed by “companies who will benefit from their decisions”.
Mount Polley and the coal going to Texada Quarries are failures of political leadership. While Corrigan was discouraged that decisions made by higher levels of government have major impacts on municipalities that have no input into those decisions, at least he spoke up and voiced his concerns.
Recently, the majority of city councillors in Comox and Courtenay voted against hearing a resolution against tanker traffic on our coast, claiming it was outside of their jurisdiction. In other words, they are content to remain mute while the ‘banana republicans’ have their way with us. But these issues are also a failure of the electorate, those people who don’t get out and vote for candidates who will act in the best interests of the people of the Comox Valley, of B.C. and of Canada.
Your next opportunity is in November when we have our municipal elections.