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NEWS: Baynes Sound at risk with proposed Raven coal mine

Last December, the Comox Valley Record reported that, “A diverse group of Vancouver Island citizens working hard to ensure a proposed coal mine above Baynes Sound doesn’t get rubber-stamp approval is being recognized by the local chapter of the Council of Canadians. …(Chapter activist) Gwyn Frayne said, ‘For the 2010 (Community Action) award, we have selected CoalWatch. The Council of Canadians is very committed to protecting our water and environment; we believe the Raven coal mine threatens both.’ …CoalWatch and local shellfish growers are greatly concerned about the effects that any watershed contamination would have on the thriving local shellfish industry.”

Baynes Sound, at risk with this proposed coal mine, is the channel between Denman Island and Vancouver Island. The sound is a narrow western off-shoot of the Strait of Georgia that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland of British Columbia.

On March 28, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced funding for groups to participate in an ‘environmental assessment’ of the proposed Raven coal mine.

On April 12, the Vancouver Island North NDP stated, “Federal NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard is backing community calls for a stronger environmental assessment into the proposed coal mine in Comox Valley. And she’s challenging Conservative MP John Duncan to finally speak out on behalf of the community. ‘The proposal for a massive underground coal mine in the heart of the Baynes Sound watershed puts hundreds of jobs in the shellfish industry at risk,’ Leonard said this week in a news release. ‘Drinking water, air quality and traffic safety are all issues that need to be addressed. That`s why we need to a have a full independent expert panel review — we need the strongest form of environmental assessment when so much is at stake.'”

On April 14, Ralph Shaw wrote in the Comox Valley Record about a Comox Valley Water Watch public forum that took place on April 7 on the coal mine. Shaw writes, “The proposed mine is the Raven underground coal mine, approximately 3,100 hectares located about five kilometres from Baynes Sound in Cowie Creek and Tsable River drainages. The current plan is to annually produce somewhere in the neighbourhood of 650,000 to 1.1 million tonnes of highly volatile bituminous coal to be shipped to Asian markets via Port Alberni. The life of the mine is estimated to be 17 years plus or minus and it will create about 350 jobs. The primary use of the coal is in the manufacturing of steel. The surface footprint of the mine would be about 200 hectares.” He adds, “We are currently in the final throes of a federal election, with a provincial one looming in the near future. It seems to me that politicians should be letting the voting public know there they stand on this mine proposal.”