EDITORIAL: Jobs needed

A coal mine was never going to happen, but what about some effort to bring other jobs here?

If there was anything attractive about the Raven coal mine proposal, it was jobs.

Then again, jobs at what price?

Surely we as a society, at least on Vancouver Island, have moved past coal as a legitimate source for, well, anything. We should honour and admire the past, a time when places not so far away from here like Union Bay and Cumberland thrived because of coal mines. People, a lot of people, died in those mines.

But coal is so 1880. That was a time when we didn’t know what we know now about air quality or the effect coal production has on the ocean and how it can decimate links in the food chain.

China doesn’t seem to care. Have you seen the photos of their air quality? Canadians have bottled air — that’s right, air — from here and sold it to the Chinese who are just looking for a fresh breath.

Coal is a cheap fuel for industry. We don’t have to be cheap.

The Raven proposal hung around the periphery of possibility and had its proponents because of the jobs it promised. In the end, it had no real support, not from the people or from the provincial Environmental Assessment Office.

It was not a movement of professional protesters who stepped in the way of this mine. Sure, the opposition was led by a Comox-based group called CoalWatch, but its president John Snyder has never struck us as someone who would be taking a VW van to the next anti-industry protest and tie himself to a tree, put a bandana on his head and sing Kumbaya.

Back to the jobs. The death of the Raven project leaves the mid-Island region right where it was — in need of some good-paying jobs.

Premier Christie Clark campaigned on jobs. How much of that she packed on the back of what’s been an invisible Liquid Natural Gas industry is unclear. What is clear is the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t had a significant jobs announcement in years. And we have a cabinet minister.

It’s time the provincial government actually invested in Parksville Qualicum Beach. We don’t want a hand-out. And we’re not talking about government jobs, save for one possible exception. How about an economic development office located in Parksville Qualicum Beach with staff that could actively and aggressively recruit firms that could provide good-paying jobs that respect our unique environment?

— Editorial by John Harding

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