Responding to criticisms made by some members of Williams Lake City Council at last week’s council meeting, Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond said the CRD will not be sending any letters regarding the Mount Polley Mine restart until after the end of the public consultation period.
“Once we have all the information relative to the plan and the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Mines have signed off on it we can send a letter knowing exactly what we are supporting and exactly what the wishes of the constituents of the Cariboo-Chilcotin are,” Richmond said Friday from Victoria, adding everyone knows the closure of the mine has economic impacts, but it’s important to have all the information first.
“The ministries have said to us that they will be looking for some direction from the regional district and an indication as to whether we support the mine’s re-opening or not, but they do recognize the time to do that is when all the information is received and all the consultation is completed.”
To date that’s how the board has been thinking about the situation as a whole, Richmond explained, noting the board has been receiving regular updates from the mine and government.
In February Mayor Walt Cobb wrote a letter urging the mine be restarted as soon as possible, and said at the last CRD meeting, the board as a whole felt it wanted to remain neutral and couldn’t support whether the mine opened or didn’t open.
“I guess it’s just a difference of opinion. It’s unfortunate in my mind,” Cobb said.
Responding, Coun. Scott Nelson said he’s completely disappointed in the CRD leadership not pushing for a restart.
“That mine is a very, very important generator of jobs, direct and indirect, and at the end of the day we all want to ensure we have a safe environment and I think the independent report that’s come down is very clear on what took place.”
Nelson said he encouraged the CRD to help get the mine opened.
“As a resource-based community you expect leaders to be finding ways and solutions.”
Richmond, said Cobb has been involved with the CRD’s updates.
“Every three weeks, there is a conference call between us, the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Environment,” Richmond said. “They are on the line, they are telling us what they are doing.”
Through the public process period the CRD wants to have an open mind and will not try and sway the public, Richmond insisted.
“Right now any letter we write is not going to change the government’s mandate or change their mind. They are looking for input right now and then they will be looking to us for direction.”
Richmond agreed the Cariboo-Chilcotin is impacted by the shut down, and said the CRD wants to see the mine up and running again, but it has to be done in an environmentally-sound manner with the region’s support.
“If it’s not supported then we could start a whole other chain of events by insisting it be re-started. At this point it’s our job to listen to what people have to say about the plan. Then we can write a letter.”
Any decision by the CRD, has to be an informed one, he added.