Yesterday, more than 400 people participated in an anti-Raven coal mine protest in Buckley Bay, BC. To watch the CHEK news report, please go to http://bcove.me/6p758myr.
In the news clip you can see the banner for the Peaceful Direct Action Coalition. In late-July, the Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter helped form this coalition. It includes Nocoalmine.net, the World Community Development Education Society, Comox Valley Water Watch, Comox Valley Sierra Club, and Comox Valley CoalWatch. The Comox Valley Echo has reported, "The coalition’s main purpose is to educate the Comox Valley public on its rights and responsibilities in relation to peaceful protest and peaceful direct action. Their stated goal is to mobilize hundreds of citizens to relearn that peaceful direct action is a fundamental democratic right, to remember that when governments are ignoring the will of the people, it is the responsibility of citizens to react strongly, collectively and peacefully."
The Comox Valley chapter has been active in opposing the mine. Compliance Coal Corporation's proposed Raven underground coal mine would be approximately 3,100 hectares in size with a surface footprint of 200 hectares. It has prompted concerns about water safety because it would be located about five kilometres from Baynes Sound in the Cowie Creek and Tsable River drainages. The sound is the narrow western off-shoot of the Strait of Georgia that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland of British Columbia. It would produce 650,000 to 1.1 million tonnes of highly volatile bituminous coal - thus contributing to climate change - to be shipped to Asian markets via Port Alberni. The life of the mine is estimated to be about 16 or 17 years.
Hundreds have turned out at meetings during the public comment period on the mine which ran from May 18 to June 27. On June 1, the Comox Valley Record reported there was “a standing-room-only crowd” at the public hearing in Courtenay. “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). ...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 number of submissions has since more than doubled.
The CEAA says the project does not warrant referral to a full expert panel review, but the public has been demanding this along with aquifer mapping and modelling.
On September 23, more than 600 people filled the gymnasium at the Isfeld Secondary School in Courtenay to hear Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and lawyer/ author Leo McGrady speak on peaceful direct action and in opposition to the coal mine. To watch a 15-minute video of the public forum, along with an associated march and post-it action, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4oeaX1vZ08.