A little over two years ago we held a town hall meeting in Fanny Bay, where a standing room only crowd discussed the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine Project. It was at this meeting that concerned citizens formed CoalWatch Comox Valley. The events over the past two years have revealed many interesting details.
It’s clear that the “harmonized” environmental assessment of the Raven Project is deeply flawed. Numerous local governments, community groups, and thousands of British Columbia citizens have called for a more rigorous environmental assessment, a so called independent review panel with public hearings. Unfortunately, the calls for a more rigorous assessment have been rejected at all federal and provincial levels of government.
The near record amount of comments submitted during the two comment periods thus far indicate widespread public concern and opposition to the proposed massive coal mine. Citizens at three public meetings also voiced overwhelming opposition to the Raven Project. The proposed Project is also contradictory to Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies adopted in both the Comox Valley and Port Alberni. Despite all of this, the environmental assessment of the Raven Project is being pushed forward.
It’s fairly obvious that a coal mine project that calls for a mine to be located only 5 kilometers from Baynes Sound, home to a thriving and economically important shellfish industry, is an insane idea. Couple that with an environmental assessment that doesn’t include any mechanism for public consent, and it’s no wonder that the residents of the Comox Valley, Port Alberni, and Vancouver Island are fed up and disgusted.
This cynicism and disgust has led numerous groups and organizations in the Comox Valley to form a Peaceful Direct Action Coalition, to educate the public on peaceful direct action. Many of us see peaceful direct action and civil disobedience, as another tool to use in the fight against this massive coal mine proposal near Fanny Bay.
The year ahead will be a challenging one for those opposed to the Raven Coal Mine Project. But make no mistake, the thousands of people who are opposed to this Project are dedicated, determined, united, and in solidarity, we will be victorious in our fight against this Project.
John Snyder, Fanny Bay, BC
President, CoalWatch Comox Valley Society