Monica Lamb-Yorski’s recent article discussing the Tsilhqot’in National Government’s position, as expressed in this article, by spokesperson Joe Alphonse regarding the proposed Prosperity project raises questions of deep concern.
The community of the greater Williams Lake area, while desiring to offer as much support as possible to the needs and wants of the Chilcotin First Nations communities in achieving their desired goals, the goals of the First Nations community must at the same time be balanced by the needs of the greater community at large.
The greater community of Williams Lake depends on attracting industry and development to provide needed employment and economic stability in this area.
The question many in the community are asking is: say we don’t have the mine development, what is the TNG offering to this community to offset the loss of this mine development?
The existing health facilities, service availability, and shopping environment that we each, including First Nations, currently enjoy in this Williams Lake area is made possible by existing and future industry and employment opportunities in this area.
If not resource development, does the TNG have something in mind as an alternate to New Prosperity? If the TNG does have a substantial alternate source for practical economic development and job creation, to gain support for the TNG position regarding this mine, the TNG should be boldly making its plans for such alternate economic development available to the greater community at the earliest possible time.
Alphonse has indicated that he is prepared to seek legal action, often a process that bodes best for lawyers. In the final analysis the judge, listening to a raucous argument, generally speaking, arbitrates a democratic decision, often with no clear winners.
The question is, is Alphonse’s position mainly to cause further delay to the New Prosperity project by tying the process up in some sort of complicated court action in the hope that Taseko will just eventually walk away from the project? Bankrupting Taseko could simply mean somebody else taking over the project with even less public interest and or environmental concern and often hardens proponents’ resolve.
Any process involving First Nations communities in an extensive court battle could jeopardize community relations and the sustainability of services in this greater area while at the same time deprive Alphonse’s own people of necessary and much needed financial resources.