As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect on stories that touched our lives and shaped our communities over the past year.
Typically our Year in Review editions have many stories that make our newsmaker list –– both good and bad.
There is no doubt this year that one story dominated our lives.
The Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach is our top story for 2014, overshadowing everything else.
Aug. 4, 2014 quickly turned into a local State of Emergency for frightened campers, cabin owners and Likely residents when an estimated 17 million cubic metres of water and eight million cubic metres of tailings waste careened out of control from the mine, rushing into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake and Quesnel River.
The environmental disaster, which began in the early morning hours of what was a sleepy holiday Monday, left longtime residents on pristine Quesnel Lake stunned and scrambling to survey the immediate damage and threat to the community.
The days that followed were filled with shock, sadness and anger as everyone tried to comprehend the scope of the breach and come to terms with the reality that their lives would never be the same.
Thankfully no human lives were lost in the disaster, however, the livelihoods of at least 70 workers were directly impacted by job layoffs due to the breach as well as the livelihoods of resort and tourism operators in the area.
The future for the remaining 300 or so workers continues to hang in the balance as the company and the accident undergo a series of investigations.
What remains to be answered, if it ever will, is how a mistake of this magnitude could happen during modern times?
Also, what will be the longterm implications on the once-pristine local environment?
Six months after the breach, drinking water is still being provided to Quesnel Lake residents due to the poor water quality of Quesnel Lake in the west arm.
The federal government seems to have washed their hands of the disaster while provincial leaders are busy planning for Site C and LNG.
So while lives go on and new stories unfold, our area, and in particular Likely residents, will feel the impacts of this tragic story for many generations to come.
– Williams Lake Tribune