The first public hearing on the proposed Raven coal mine took place in Courtenay, British Columbia on Monday night. The Comox Valley Record reports there was "a standing-room-only crowd" there. "Representatives from the BC Environmental Assessment Office, Canada Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and project proponent Compliance Coal Corporation answered a barrage of questions from the partisan crowd (of more than 500 people). Andrew Rollo of the CEAA drew a chorus of boos when he said the project does not warrant referral to a panel review." The newspaper highlights, "Campbell Connor (the vice-president of Coal Watch Comox Valley) drew a round of applause by requesting a full expert panel review, along with aquifer mapping and modelling, as the environmental assessment phase of the proposed Raven underground coal mine progresses. ...(He) said a technical committee has compiled a list of 'very serious gaps' in the process after reviewing the draft Application Information Requirements (AIR). 'The process we're going through at this moment is less than that which we deserve,' Connor said." John Snyder, the president of Coal Watch, stated, "Overwhelmingly to date public comment has opposed the mine in its entirety. We want to be ensured that public opposition to the mine is noted in the official record. No means no." "Opponents say the mine poses a threat to air and water quality, and to salmon habitats and the shellfish industry in Fanny Bay. Polluting the Cowie Creek watershed is another concern, as is trucking coal along the Inland Highway to Port Alberni. ...Mike Morel, a biologist from Denman Island, suggests the study area is too small and should include, at minimum, all Raven streams and wetlands. ...Rudy Friesen said coal burned overseas will produce about two million tons of carbon dioxide a year while the Raven mine operates." The Comox Valley Echo adds, "So far, over 2,000 letters have been submitted by the public regarding the proposed 16-year mine, which would be located 20 kilometres south of Courtenay." The Comox Valley chapter of the Council of Canadians is opposing the proposed mine. Last year, it presented its Community Action award to Coalwatch for its work against the Raven coal mine. Chapter activist Gwyn Frayne said, "The Council of Canadians is very committed to protecting our water and environment; we believe the Raven coal mine threatens both."
Photo: Scott Stanfield