Vancouver Island was built on coal - but is there a future for it?




t was a coal mining area for more than 60 years, and in the middle of this time a shellfish industry sprouted and eventually became the engine that drives the economy of bays called Union, Fanny, Deep and Buckley.

The coal trains and ships stopped moving in the mid part of the last century, but now the shellfish industry employs more than 600 people in the region. Baynes Sound produces more oysters than anywhere else in Canada, not to mention the scallops, mussels and clams.

So, ponders the uneducated mind, if coal didn’t kill the industry before – in fact, the shellfish industry grew exponentially during and after the presence of a coal mine and coal wharf right in its front yard – why so much opposition from shellfish growers this time around in response to the Raven coal mine project?

After Matthew Wright, the communications manager for the B.C. Shellfish Growers’ Association, reminded us this was 2012 and not 1912 – ouch – he explained why his group is so adamantly opposed to the Raven project.

It’s all about marketing and standards, he says. What may have been sold on the market 40 years ago absolutely cannot be sold today. There are food safety laws now, you see. That black-ish clam you dig up in Union Bay today might be edible, but you aren’t allowed to sell it these days, explained Wright.

But the coal from Raven would not be shipped via Baynes Sound and although it would be mined about 5 km away afrom Buckley Bay, it would always be moving the opposite direction toward Port Alberni.

Wright pointed out the disturbance of the earth and the eventual leaching (mostly animal fecal matter) into Baynes from the construction of the Inland Highway frequently shut down his industry for days at a time.

As strong as its opposition clearly is, we find it curious the Growers’ association, according to Wright, was willing to play ball with Raven if the coal company would put up a bond to safeguard the finances of the families that would be affected by any shellfish closures caused by the mine.

The story of coal mining on Vancouver Island, roughly 150 years old, continues. Stay tuned.

— Editorial by John Harding




Just Posted

Qualicum Beach moves on grant for Eaglecrest roundabout

Council votes unanimously to have staff push for application

Dying motorcyclist from Coombs gets last-ride tribute

Friends grant Corinna Pitney’s wish ‘to hear bikes roar, to see leather and chrome’

Parksville author shares journey on famed 800 km trail

Books, movie inspire Roxey Edwards to walk Camino de Santiago, write book

Advance voting numbers in for Qualicum Beach, Parksville, RDN

More people vote ahead of time than in previous election

Man jailed after pilfering items from arena in Parksville

60-year-old caught after thefts from change rooms; victims used app to locate belongings

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

B.C. brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The brew aims to raise food waste awareness and provide funds for the food bank

Most Read