Two local businessmen were among the more than two dozen people who spoke their minds when the federal New Prosperity Gold-Copper Project environmental review panel wrapped up its public hearing sessions with a Closing Remarks Session on Aug. 23.
Len Doucette says he made two presentations to the panel, one as a South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) representative, and one for his Say Yes to New Prosperity (SYNP) Facebook group.
Both were essentially a summary of the social and economic impacts the mine could have on 100 Mile House, and he began with his SYNP summary.
“The new mine will be employing 700 people in the construction phase and 600 during operation, with well over 1,200 indirect jobs. We are a resource-based community, and with Boss Mountain [mine] closing in the early 1980s, it is time that we welcome a new mine – specifically, New Prosperity.”
Doucette notes he explained his children and grandchildren should have an option to “stay, live and prosper” in their home community and not be forced to leave to find work.
“Student enrolment is down by 38 per cent since from 2001. The socio-economic index released by School District #27 shows the Cariboo-Chilcotin in 49th place out of 57 [districts].”
This exodus of younger workers seeking employment elsewhere is demonstrated by the 25 per cent ratio of seniors in the region, he says, adding this is well over the provincial average.
On behalf of the SCCC, Doucette notes he centred his panel remarks on potential mine impacts to the South Cariboo economy.
“The economic and social benefits that it will generate will most certainly be felt within the South Cariboo community through jobs – both direct and indirect supplies in support of local business.”
Doucette says he felt his closing remarks were well received by the panel, but adds the session was not as well attended as the hearings.
Nick Christianson addressed the panel on behalf of himself and his family.
Christianson says he told the panel it is now clear to him the mine project controversy is merely a way for First Nations groups to pursue land-claims issues.
“The government needs to deal with First Nations [land claims] … they are limiting progress because of this stumbling block.
“I don’t think the [First Nations involved] understand you can’t hold the proponents as a ‘hostage’ to further their land claims.”
He notes an Aug. 21 Prince George Citizen article states some First Nations presenters “repeatedly” told the panel the mine location infringes on Sasquatch territory.
“[Now] they can’t mine because it affects the Sasquatches in the area? How bizarre is this thing getting?”
The issue is about a mine, Christianson explains, not about impacts on First Nations history or settlements, nor about the environment, or even saving Fish Lake.
“If we can’t sustain the lifestyle … as men and women working [and] pay taxes – and that is how our system runs – what are we going to do, pack up and go back to Europe? I’m not sure what they think is going to happen if we can’t proceed with some of these projects.”
He adds supporting the mine is not simply about cash, but about maintaining a system based on taxation revenue – hospitals, roads, other public services.
Christianson says he cited Detroit to the panel as an example of a community that “went broke.”
“[The mine opponents] talk about their way of life. What about my way of life, and my kids life, and our future as a society?”