The first question the Tribune asked the candidates running in the provincial election is about their stance on the New Prosperity Mine proposal and process as follows:
Under what circumstances do you support the New Prosperity Mine project going forward?
Is the current environmental review process working to your expectations? Answers are as follows:
MLA, Bob Simpson, Independent (incumbent), Cariboo North
Taseko’s revised project proposal has not yet met the requirement to prove it is substantively different than the proposal that was rejected by the last federal panel.
I believe Taseko should stand down on its Prosperity project and the provincial government should rescind its permitting of Taseko’s previous proposal.
This would allow the provincial and federal governments to begin meaningful dialogue with the Tsilhqot’in National Government to arrive at a rights and title framework for resource development on the Tsilhqot’in’s traditional territory.
The negative press and focus on the ongoing saga of the Prosperity Project has unfortunately tainted the image of the mining sector in B.C. and undermined the significant progress that other companies have made with First Nations in this province.
Duncan Barnett, New Democratic Party, Cariboo North
The New Prosperity Mine project is one of several potential new mines in B.C.
New mines must pass an environmental assessment to ensure important values like water quality are protected, and must address First Nations issues.
If the New Prosperity project can meet these legal requirements, I would support it. Mining plays a significant role in the provincial economy, and is a huge economic contributor in the Cariboo North riding.
We have several existing mines and others in the development stage.
I and the NDP support mining and appreciate the good jobs and economic activity mining generates, from the smaller placer mines in Horsefly, Likely and Wells to the large mines like Gibraltar and Mount Polley.
The mining industry knows it must protect environmental values.
The NDP supports mining and plans to do so by extending the mining flow through share tax credit and establishing efficient timelines for environmental assessments.
We will renew and strengthen the assessment process to ensure B.C. will have science-based environmental standards plus real and meaningful consultation with First Nations.
We will also encourage mineral exploration by ensuring an average 55-day turnaround of notice of work permits.
The NDP has also committed to investing in mining-related skills training programs to ensure B.C. workers are ready to take on new mining jobs.
Coralee Oakes, Liberal Party, Cariboo North
Cariboo North is one of the most forest dependent regions in British Columbia. For me, this election is about how our region is going to diversify.
I believe that mining plays a critical role in creating the jobs that will support and retain our families.
The Prosperity Mine project was approved by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment office and is now being considered by the Canadian Environmental Agency.
Once the agency has finished its review, it will submit its findings to the federal minister of environment, who will make a final decision. It then returns to the province to make any necessary amendments to our approval.
This illustrates one of the problems with the environmental review process. Until recently, often two separate processes had to occur to obtain a final approval.
When I was manager of the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce, we wrote policy in support of an improved level of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments resulting in the elimination of a duplicative assessment process for a single project, thereby increasing efficiency.
I am pleased that our government has moved in this direction. Through an agreement with the federal government signed in March, the B.C. environmental assessment office will conduct environmental assessment for specific projects, while the federal government will provide its expertise.
This will eliminate much of the duplication that has existed in the environmental review process.