This week is the final week of hearings for Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity Mine, which I know many of you have been following closely. I have followed this project since its inception almost two decades ago, when I was Mayor of 100 Mile House. I’ve supported the project from the beginning, both as mayor and as an MLA, as did the city council and the community.
This week, I’d like to tell you why I am convinced that this project should go ahead. Forestry has always been an important part of our regional economy, yet this industry has suffered as a result of the pine beetle epidemic which has affected our region, causing economic hardships and affecting many families. The New Prosperity Mine gives us a new opportunity – a chance to create jobs, reduce poverty, and boost our local economy. The economic impact the mine would have for our region is hard to exaggerate.
There have been some concerns about how this project will impact First Nations communities, and I believe that through the consultation process, and through revenue sharing, we can address these concerns. This project will create many job opportunities for young First Nations people, bringing many benefits to their communities.
Taseko has been a great corporate citizen, working with communities to ensure that they benefit from projects. At the Gibraltar Mine, Taseko signed an agreement with the Williams Lake Indian Band and has a great relationship with them, and the upgrades Taseko made to this mine left billions of dollars in the region and created 200 more permanent jobs. The New Prosperity Mine would bring these types of benefits as well.
The New Prosperity Mine is truly a project that has the potential to live up to its name. That’s why it has my full support, and why I hope to see this project move forward soon.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.