At least one prominent resident of Parksville Qualicum Beach says its good news a coal mine for mid-Vancouver Island is back on the table.
Compliance Energy confirmed the company has re-submitted its application for the proposed Raven Underground Coal project (as first reported in The NEWS in our Tuesday,
Feb. 3 edition).
“It comes down to jobs,” Nick Acciavatti said in reaction to the news. “We’ve lost a lot of people moving out of our area for better paying jobs.”
Acciavatti is Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department’s fire chief.
He said the volunteer organization has lost half a dozen firefighters recently to jobs in Alberta or Northern B.C.
“It’s hard to run a volunteer organization without volunteers — we’ve lost so many good people going to Alberta because there are no well-paying careers around here and the cost of living is high enough that it doesn’t match wages around here,” said Acciavatti.
“I’m not saying I’m a supporter of coal, but I’m a supporter of jobs and any industry that keeps people here … jobs are welcome, anything to keep families together and people here.”
According to Compliance’s website (www.theravenproject.ca), the Raven project proposes to remove metallurgical or steel-making coal from a site west of Buckley Bay ferry terminal near Courtenay, about 50 kilometres from downtown Qualicum Beach.
The company claims the proposed Raven project would contribute approximately $1.1 billion to the economies of the surrounding regions.
Compliance is looking at creating 200 construction jobs and 350 “well-paying, full-time mine, port and transportation jobs” if the project is approved.
These jobs will continue for the expected 17 year duration of the project. These numbers are based on a peak production of 1.1 million tonnes of coal per year.
The company estimates annual operating costs will be approximately $70 million, of which about $30 million will be local direct salaries, wages and benefits.
Compliance’s CEO Stephen Ellis told
The NEWS earlier this week he’s confident about the company’s new application.
It comes 18 months after the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) rejected the company’s first application for the coal mine saying “the application does not contain the required information and (the EAO) has decided not to accept the application for detailed review.”
Until now, Compliance officials have missed several self-imposed deadlines to re-submit.
However, the company’s application is now in the hands of the EAO, which will have 30 days to determine whether or not it meets the criteria set out in the application information requirements.
If the EAO determines that the application meets the requirements, it will be accepted for review. A 180-day review will be initiated and a public comment period on the application will be scheduled.
If the EAO determines that the application does not meet the requirements, it will not be accepted for review and Compliance will need to decide whether or not to revise the application and submit it again.
The Wilderness Committee, a Canadian wilderness preservation organization, isn’t so keen to see the project through.
“On top of the immediate environmental impacts, approving this mine would signal that this type of short-sighted, 19th century development is welcome on Vancouver Island … This sort of risky, unsustainable project is a thing of the past here on the Island – we need to leave it there,” Torrance Coste, a Vancouver Island campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, said through a news release.
The Wilderness Committee said it will be working with local groups to organize town hall meetings and other events to discuss the proposal, and will set up an online tool to help people participate in the upcoming public comment period.