As clear as coal

Perspective needed on coal mine

e

rspective is a funny thing.

Take the proposed coal mine near Fanny Bay. There are hundreds of people lining up to decry the proposal and towns like Qualicum Beach coming out in opposition to it in any form.

Then, take the smaller communities of the East Kootenay region of the province, who have lived with multiple coal mines for decades. To them, the sound of coal trains rumbling through the towns, sometimes shaking them so badly over time that foundations crack, is the sound of money. It’s a community’s lifeblood in that part of the province. When the coal trains there do not run, it’s a sign of economic depression.

There, they have learned to live with coal — the industry that built the region — and learned how to transport it in a reasonably safe manner. Certainly, the coating sprayed over the coal cars to prevent it from blowing away isn’t perfect. And no, coal itself isn’t perfect, but if we need steel, for instance, we need coal.

The Town of Qualicum Beach’s opposition to the mine appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to a seemingly unpleasant industry. Again, that’s a matter of perspective. If successful in its current form, the proposal for the Raven coal mine would see coal trucks traveling along Highway 19 past Qualicum Beach — but well past it. A spill of any kind will not be enough to seriously threaten anyone’s health — considering there are no tunnels leading to town. Just open air. Black lung isn’t really likely.

By all means, ensure that the environmental impact of such a proposal is affordable in those terms. If it is not safe, kill the process and end the discussion. 

But if it can be safely done, be clear about your reasons for opposition, so voters can know where you stand.

    — editorial by Steven Heywood

 

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