GUEST VIEW: Mining Week a time to celebrate a growing industry

Mining Week is an opportunity to celebrate the important role mining plays in our community.

Mining Week is an opportunity to celebrate the important role mining plays in our community.

Among Smithers’ diverse industries and sectors, including tourism, forestry and agriculture, we’ve seen exploration and mining become our area’s biggest economic driver.

In 2011, mineral exploration alone brought $220 million in investment to the Skeena region.

Smithers is the hub for the northwest’s mining industry. We’re home to the B.C. government’s regional mining office as well as dozens of companies in the drilling, expediting and assaying industries, most of which were born right here in the Bulkley Valley.

Groups such as the Smithers Exploration Group continue to work hard to strengthen this position.

We’re proud of Smithers’ award-winning School of Exploration and Mining at Northwest Community College.

Its unique brand of hands-on, experiential learning ensures local young people, especially First Nations, will have a chance to realize the promise of the mining economy.

Many of the skills students learn can be transferred to other industries, making our community even more resilient.

Our town council recognizes increased mining activity will mean growth and change for our community, and we’re getting ready.

For instance, we recently announced an agreement for the development of 102 new building lots between Dahlie Creek and Pacific Street.

We’re in the process of rezoning lands at the airport to facilitate light industrial development and looking into the feasibility of expanding our terminal.

We’re working towards building a second arena, a long-awaited amenity that will help us attract families who move to the region for jobs in the minerals sector.

Everyone recognizes growth comes with its challenges. I’m looking forward to a conference the Bulkley Valley Research Centre is organizing this fall on maximizing local benefits and managing the social and environmental effects of development.

Our success in mining owes a lot to the remarkable individuals who are the backbone of our local industry, from early prospectors working claims in Silver King Basin and on Hudson Bay Mountain to today’s entrepreneurs, geologists and educators.

I appreciate the insights and experience of those who lead today’s industry.

Smithers has deep roots in exploration and mining, an exciting industry based on optimism, innovation, and an enduring curiosity about what lies beneath the earth’s surface.

Taylor Bachrach

Mayor of Smithers