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Anti-coal mine protesters converge at Buckley Bay

Saturday protest highlighted opposition to plans by Compliance Coal
An estimated 400 people converged on Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island Saturday to protest against the proposed Raven coal mine project near Fanny Bay

Opponents of a proposed coal mine in the Fanny Bay area converged on a parking lot across from the Buckley Bay ferry terminal Saturday to make their concerns known.

The event, dubbed Solidarity, not Compliance, was organized by the Comox Valley-based Water Dragon Alliance, a group formed barely a month ago with the express purpose of organizing the protest.

They were welcomed by the MC for the event, a Denman Island activist calling herself only Fireweed.

“Coal in the ground is a filter, cleansing and purifying the waters of life,” she said. “Out of the ground, it is toxic.”

The event drew about 400 protesters, at least 100 of whom arrived on the ferry from Denman Island, marching behind a traditional Chinese water dragon puppet.

The protesters included Ken Wu, executive director of B.C.’s Ancient Forest Alliance, and Majority for a Sustainable Society (MASS) who stressed that coal is a global issue.

“Climate change trumps all other environmental issues,” Wu said. “Wild salmon, old growth trees, everything will be lost if we don’t solve climate change. It’s the number-one issue facing our planet. Climate change does not respect park boundaries.”

Wu said it is crucial to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising above two per cent above pre-industrial levels. Otherwise, he said, feedback loops will kick in, such as melting permafrost adding huge amounts to the  atmosphere’s total carbon load. If this happens, he said, global warming will spiral out of control and there won’t be anything anyone can do to stop it.

In this fight, he said, the burning of coal is a prime target, with fully 70 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions coming from that source.

“If you look at the major impacts from burning fossil fuels, coal is about the biggest issue there is,” he said.

Tria Donaldson, a campaigner for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, also spoke.

““It’s no wonder that communities all over Vancouver Island are standing up to a proposed coal mine right in their backyards,” she said. “On top of the health impacts, it is also the worst fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions. Coal mining is a dirty industry that has no place in a climate-friendly Vancouver Island.”

She vowed activists would do whatever it takes to stop the proposed mine from going through.

“We know they want this mine to go ahead, but you know what? We are not going to let them,” she said to cheers from the crowd. “What is going to stop this project is all of us standing strong and working together and saying ‘no.’”