The controversial proposal for an a coal mine in Vancouver Island’s Baynes Sound – home to a thriving shellfish industry – saw large crowds turn out to voice their opposition at three separate public meetings last week. The joint federal and provincial environmental assessment hearings on Compliance Energy’s proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine drew some 1,500 citizens in Courtney, Port Alberni and Union Bay – the vast majority vocally opposed to the project.
“It’s obvious the public has deep concerns about the proposed coal mine and the approval process,” said CoalWatch Comox Valley president John Snyder after the final public meeting concluded in Union Bay Friday night, with over 450 people in attendance.
According to CoalWatch – which, along with Coal Free Alberni, has been leading the swelling public opposition to the project over the past year – Monday’s meeting at the Filberg Centre in Courtney saw nearly 600 people, while 400 attended the Port Alberni meeting on Thursday, with another 600 tuning in online.
The hall in Union Bay was so packed the fire marshal had to restrict access.
In all, a staggering 200 people spoke in opposition to the project, with only one in favour.
“Public opposition to the mine is overwhelming,” said Tria Donaldson, Pacific Coast Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. “It’s time for the federal and provincial governments to listen to what people are saying. There is simply too much at risk for this proposal to proceed.”
CoalWatch’s John Snyder said people expressed a wide variety of objections to the mine.
“The proposed mine puts hundreds of jobs in the shellfish industry at risk, it threatens our drinking water, air quality, and road safety, and it does not conform the vision our communities have for the future,” he said. “That’s why it’s crucial for the government to establish an independent expert panel review with full public hearings before any further consideration is given to this proposal.”
Now that they’ve have spoken out loud and clear for themselves, we at The Common Sense Canadian are urging our readers around the province to show their support for the people and environment of Vancouver Island. Click here to submit your own comments to the environmental assessment process by June 27.