Coal mine creates controversy on Vancouver Island
A massive and controversial proposed coal mine in the Comox Valley has residents wondering if the potential ecological trade-off is worth the price.
The proposed Raven Underground Coal Project would be located in the Comox Valley about five kilometres west of the Buckley Bay ferry terminal on Vancouver Island, and would produce primarily metallurgical or "steel-making" coal for export to markets in Japan and South Korea.
Greg Wood, who makes a good living as a local Pacific oyster farmer, believes his oysters, his industry and his way of life are threatened. He's worried about toxins polluting the water.
"It would have a devastating effect if something did go wrong," he said.
"I love where I live and I'm here to protect it."
CEO John Tapics of Compliance Energy, the company behind the project, said, "It will create a huge economic opportunity for the Comox Valley and the regional district. The project is forecast to create 350 direct full-time jobs."
Tapics is reassuring skeptics that the mine will be designed in a way that there will not be any significant adverse impacts.
The Comox Valley's economic development director, John Watson, said the advantages to the local economy are high.
"Local families and local businesses generally benefit more from the introduction of a mine like this than other sectors," he said.
A 40-day public feedback period on the proposal ended Tuesday, and the people behind the project say they will consider every comment.
John Snyder is one of the residents leading the opposition.
"I think there's frustration, there's anger and there's fear of the unknown. Will it affect our water quality? Will it affect the shellfish growers of Baynes Sound?" he said.
Environmentalists and First Nations groups oppose the mine as well, calling it contrary to the province's green agenda.
"Coal as a fossil fuel is one of the dirtiest, and here in B.C. we are in the midst of a massive expansion of our coal fields at the same time when we are claiming to be climate leaders," said Tria Donaldson of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty