Town of Comox council passed a motion supporting the Comox Valley Regional District's call for the application for the Raven coalmine project to be halted.
The decision was prompted after the BC Shellfish Growers Association, which considers the mine project to be a major threat to the shellfish industry, made a plea to council on Jan. 9 to follow the CVRD in advising provincial and federal government agencies that it stop further processing of the application until:
The BC government has done a comprehensive aquifer mapping of the aquifers that could be affected by the coalmine,
The BC government conduct an independent baseline study of the Baynes Sound intertidal and subtidal benthic infauna community adjacent to the proposed project,
That the federal minister of environment refer the environment assessment to an independent review panel with public hearings.
The previous Comox council has already endorsed two similar motions in 2010, but to date they've gone unheeded.
Councilor Barbara Price said it was important council voted unanimously on the motion so as to send a powerful message.
"We need to be putting out a strong voice in the valley," said Price. "I was impressed with Roberta Stevenson's presentation and the passion that she brought . . . and the warning that she brought that if we don't look after our shellfish industry we could lose something that's incredibly valuable to us."
BCSGA executive director Roberta Stevenson told Comox council two weeks ago that with the controversial project now entering the 180 day review stage of the Application/Environmental Impact Statement that will include, a 50 day public comment period, its board of directors have passed a resolution that strongly opposed the project, adopting a "zero risk, zero tolerance" position.
The BCSGA also believed the project is a done deal, basing it on the Comox Valley Economic Development Society full-page ad in colour it placed in the Times Colonist calling out to investors to come to the valley and cited the Raven coalmine as one of the reasons.
Councilors Barbara Price and Patti Fletcher echoed the BCGA's concerns about the ad and requested that councilor Ken Grant relay them to the CVEDS board, which held its board meeting last Friday.
Grant, who is a member of the CVEDS board, explained to Comox council that ad was not aimed at endorsing the Raven coalmine.
"It's not their policy to promote that," Grant said. "It was simply fact that all those people and the coalmine people have invested a lot of money in our valley putting their plans together that they're doing so far. I won't go and speculate on the number but it's simply a fact that they are. That ad was not a promotion of hospitals or Costcos or anything else. It was simply saying this is what's going on in our valley. CVEDS does not have the ability to approve anything. So that was not the goal in that."
Price indicated that if CVEDS is spending money for a full-page colour ad, which aims to promote the Comox Valley, that it should do it with a modicum of caution because it can project the wrong impression.
CoalWatch Comox Valley was quick to praise the Comox and the CVRD's motion against the project.
"As the widespread public concern and opposition grows over this massive coal mine proposal, CoalWatch applauds the action of the Comox Town Council and CVRD," said CoalWatch Comox Valley president, John Snyder. " They've shown real leadership in voicing the legitimate concerns of the residents of the Comox Valley.
"From day one, CoalWatch has been concerned about the adverse impacts a coal mine would have on our valuable aquifers, watersheds and shellfish industry, and we're pleased to see these concerns addressed in the Comox Town Council and CVRD motions."
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