When asked if she is re-elected would she tour Fish Lake and meet with people who are opposed to the New Prosperity Mine project, B.C. Liberal Christy Clark said she’s visited the area once before.
Fish Lake is the small lake at the heart of the mine proposal in the Chilcotin. In its new proposal, Taseko Mines Ltd. says the lake will be saved, by moving the tailings pond further away.
Clark said she visited the area once, possibly in the late 1990s.
“This mine proposal has been in the works for a long time. I have seen it and I’ve seen the site, obviously.”
She said it’s possible she would tour the area again, but wasn’t going to make any promises.
“It’s been through the environmental review process at the provincial level and it’s been approved by our provincial government.
“There’s the new proposal that’s gone to the federal government and we’ll have to see what they have to say about it.”
The review will determine the future and the science that goes into the review, Clark said.
“I’m always happy to meet with people who are in favour or opposed, but that’s going to be what guides me. I am in favour of mining in B.C. It has to be done safely with minimal environmental impact obviously.”
Mining creates a lot of jobs, and for a community such as Williams Lake, for First Nations and non First Nations, it could be a life game changer if they could find a way to make it work environmentally and with First Nations.
When asked what people are telling her government is not doing for the Cariboo, Clark said there are some issues she regularly hears about.
“From the ranching community around predator control, around invasive species, where we need to do a lot more work. Donna Barnett has been absolutely tenacious in letting us know what work needs to be done.”
Clark said people don’t necessarily complain, but there have been suggestions that more markets need to be opened up for forest products.
“Biomass in this region is one big economic opportunity.”
Generally people think the Liberals have got things right, Clark suggested.
“Nobody thinks we’ve been perfect and I’m going to be the last one to argue that. But people do think we’ve gotten the big things on the economy right in recognizing that resource communities matter, that the wealth from resource communities needs to be shared in resource communities, and that we need to find a way to get to yes on economic development projects.”
Clark said she hopes the Build Canada Fund will continue to help municipalities funding infrastructure upgrades.
“Another thing we can do and that is resource revenue sharing with local communities. There is a fair share program for the north east recognizing that the resources coming out of the north east put pressure on roads, that the population that comes to work in the oil and gas puts pressure on community services and infrastructure facilities.”
After the election, if the Liberals are in power, the government will meet with resource communities to determine how those communities receive a share of the resource revenue.
“The number one complaint is how come we produce all this wealth for the province, we send it down south for the province, and it doesn’t come back? I think people have a legitimate complaint.”
Clark said funding health care in the future will depend on growing the economy.
“There is no way the government could ever have enough money to fund the growing needs in health care, unless we grow the economy. The population is aging and growing, the acuity level is growing as well.”