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LETTER: No adequate response to mining issue

The Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs pen an open letter

Dear Chilliwack-Kent candidates:

We are disappointed in your response to the proposed development. The aggregate mining industry is regulated by the Mining Act; a document which remains virtually unchanged since its inception over a century ago and fails to address issues pertinent in todays world. You assert that our statutory decision maker is independent when in fact he is a senior mining inspector reporting to the Chief Inspector of Mines. This, to us, is a direct conflict of interest.

After months of lobbying the Mining Ministry, the proponent was ordered to hold an open house where the public could finally see what was being proposed. During this session, the statutory decision maker was present and met with our group. We were informed that the decision would be based on the Mining Act and any bylaws of the local district that may apply. He informed us that his objective was to find reasons to approve aggregate mines and not to discourage them. We discussed issues concerning the environment and species at risk, road safety, health of the local residents, water use and the local economy, with tourism being a wealth generator in both Harrison and Agassiz.

To each issue, we were informed that there were government ministries responsible and was therefore out of consideration. Should the proposed mine be located in the FVRD as was indicated in a candidate’s letter, bylaw 1181, a fifty-page document regulating aggregate mining from cradle to grave, provides guidance to the decision maker. The District of Kent, where the mine would be located, has no such bylaw, leaving it open to the decision maker’s discretion. The decision maker also informed us that it was not the Mining Ministry’s duty to regulate competition stating that low-cost mines would drive others out of the business leaving it a race to the bottom, making it particularly precarious in districts lacking regulation.

Our group is aware of the need for available aggregate materials for construction purposes as this riding’s population continues to expand. However, locating a mine on the doorstep of Harrison Hot Springs makes no sense.

The purpose of electing a local representative is for them to understand the issues of their constituents and work diligently to ensure that bureaucrats know how their decisions may impact the representatives riding. It is not the MLA’s purpose to place blind faith in bureaucrats who are not always aware of local issues and do not always work in the best interest of local citizens.

Sincerely,

The Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs

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