Several individuals in the South Cariboo who hold Interested Party (IP) status for the proposed New Prosperity Mine project are honing their presentations with the public hearing process set to begin in Williams Lake on July 22.
IP Al Roberts says he will attend the hearing to show his support of the project and relay his concerns about economic health, wealth and future of 100 Mile House to the federal review panel.
“I am absolutely 100 per cent in support of the mine and, therefore, the future of this whole area. This is the only economic ‘bright light’ that’s coming up.”
After 32 years in local business, Roberts explains he has witnessed a declining economy. He notes anyone can see the “reality” of the pine-beetle devastation to forestry, and the schools closing, as families move away.
Roberts says he hopes the mine will bring families and youth back into the community because the four-day shift “will work” for people who live as far away from the mine as Bridge Lake.
“I know where we were yesterday, I know where we are right now, and I am deeply concerned if we don’t get this [mine] where we are going to be tomorrow – and it’s not going to be good.”
IP Patricia Spencer says she opposes the mine and will address the panel on behalf of the Friends of Fish Lake organization.
“Many of us enjoy going to Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) for fishing, camping, canoeing and other recreational activities. We enjoy the quiet setting, abundance of life and the spectacular mountain views.
“It is our belief that Taseko’s mining plan will not save Fish Lake. The proposed mine will also impact the entire Fish Creek Watershed … and it poses a real threat to the nearby salmon-bearing Taseko River.”
She notes the panel’s job is to determine the environmental impacts of the project and to make sure that First Nations have been consulted and accommodated.
“Many people support this proposed mine because of the purported economic benefits, and we would also support economic development that is truly sustainable over the long term and that doesn’t create another boom-and-bust cycle for our region.
“However, this mine has many inherent problems and, therefore, many risks, including legal, environmental and economic risks.”
Mine supporter and IP Len Doucette will speak at the hearing and says it is “great” that process is imminent after a long wait, although “disappointing” none will be held in 100 Mile House.
“I’ll be talking about the socioeconomics of 100 Mile House and the region in general. How, when we had the Hendrix Lake [Boss Mountain] mine here, the town was developing and growing until the mine shut down.”
He will outline the local population decline over the past decade, the closing storefronts and the lack of jobs, Doucette adds.
He says the recent landslide election win of Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, who campaigned on her support of the mine, shows local people are in favour the project.
“She won by 2,900 votes, and that’s the first time in [recent] history that a candidate has won by more than 300 votes in the Cariboo. That speaks volumes.”
IP Gary Young says he is undecided if the mine is a good idea, but he’ll address the panel to ensure it understands the impacts – as he sees them – of recirculating the water in Fish Lake.
“If the pumping thing actually works for 20 years, what’s going to happen after the mine closes? Who is responsible to keep it working?
“The lake will never be saved in that regard. You are always going to have the tailings pile, it’s going to be leaching in … you’d have to be attempting to run the lake as an aquarium for the next 150 years.”
He adds the mine would bring economic benefit to Williams Lake, but he is skeptical it will do the same for 100 Mile House with the commute for the four-day on, four-day off shifts.
“[Taskeo Mines Ltd.] changed Gibraltar Mine to a four-day shift, and they did lose some workers.”