Column: A welcome restart

I am pleased to write this column and have the opportunity to acknowledge the resilience, strength and patience of those in the Cariboo.

I am pleased to write this column and have the opportunity to acknowledge the resilience, strength and patience of those in the Cariboo.

Recently, we each received sound news, that the Ministry of Environment has conditionally authorized the Mount Polley Mine Corporation to begin restricted operations, the first of three significant steps the company needs to continue operation. The Mount Polley Mine Corporation estimates it will take about 30 days before it can begin production and the company expected to provide jobs for up to 220 workers.

The combined sound scientific evidence from ministry experts along with the extensive First Nations and public consultation that took place has provided the confidence the permit could be issued without harming the environment.

In the early fall, the company will need a second conditional permit to treat and discharge water in order  for any operations to continue and submit a long-term water treatment and discharge plan to government by June 30, 2016. This decision is welcome news for the communities of Likely, Williams Lake, Horsefly and the families across the Cariboo that depend on the company’s expected 220 jobs that mine will provide.

It is not only positive news for those at the mine, but also a great moment for our communities and the families that depend on the jobs the mine provides. Although over the past year we’ve faced many challenges and even shed some tears, we all came through it together, anticipating that this day would come and the mine would reopen. We still have a ways to go to get the mine fully re-opened and I understand Imperial Metals is working very hard to make this happen. Our government is also working very hard to ensure that when re-restart operations commence, protection of the environment will be ensured.

I will continue to tour Cariboo North and meet with constituents in my mobile office and as always, please feel free to book meetings through my office at 250.991.0296 or via email at coralee.oakes.mla@leg.bc.ca.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and is the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.