A delegation from What Matters In Our Valley (WMIOV) has asked Telkwa Council for a letter of support requesting the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) hold another public hearing regarding the proposed Telkwa Coal mine.
The delegation of co-chairs Anika Gattiker and Nancy Cody made the request explaining at council’s Aug. 16 meeting that the WMIOV group had hired a number of independent experts to look at Telkwa Coal’s proposal, and have a number of concerns.
“It’s shocking in some ways, that there can be such a difference between the message we’re getting from the company and the experts we have hired,” said Cody.
Some of the key areas under dispute according to Cody are water quality, water flows, fish issues, caribou, climate, air, noise, size of the mine and residents’ views.
“When they started out, they were talking about the size of the mining operation being 250,000 tonnes per year,” Cody said. “And then because WMIOV requested an environmental assessment, the company upped the amount to 750,000 tonnes per year, but their investors are talking about 1.335 million tonnes per year, so this is a very large project, very close to people.
“We feel we deserve an opportunity for a full airing on these issues before the province makes a decision on whether to approve or not.”
As part of the process of assessment, the group submitted their report to the EAO for consideration.
Several questions were raised by councillors, asking if the group had directly asked Telkwa Coal for additional meetings, and whether First Nation representatives were contacted as part of the WMIOV campaign.
Cody’s response was the group had talked to Telkwa Coal over the years. As for First Nations, Cody explained they have their own process in this matter and WMIOV feels it would not be appropriate to make such a request.
Councillors Annette Morgan, Leroy Dekens and Derek Meerdink did not feel they could support a letter until they had a more realistic idea of what the overall process is, where the EAO currently is in the process, and what meetings have already taken place.
The council tabled the matter until an invitation could be sent to the EAO for the requested information.
The EAO has responded by agreeing to come to the Sept. 6 council meeting to provide more information.
Telkwa Coal has held at least five open houses to the public, and one virtual meeting during the pandemic, before submitting their proposal to the EAO. The EAO held an independent open house as well.