Mining an important local land use

The Copper Mountain Mine in Princeton began a new era of mining on the property earlier this month when production officially began after a 400 million dollar plus revamping of the venerable copper-silver-gold property.

The modern operation promises to be an impressive one, based on both the physical and economic scale of the mine.

It is a reminder of the potential for natural resources that exists in the regional district - something many of us have a tendency to forget until we enter economic times like the present.

Mining, historically, has saved the South Okanagan - Simillkameen economy many times through the last century. Besides being an earliest impetus for European settlement, mining was a sector of the local economy that boomed during the otherwise dismal economic era of the 1930’s. Since that time, mining operations in Hedley, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, and Princeton have continued to provide local, well paying jobs, adding to the gross domestic product of the regional district.

Copper Mountain has the potential to provide the same economic salvation to the region today.

It’s something we should also keep in mind when we debate land use issues like the National Park.

Does it make good economic sense to put such strict and irrevocable land use controls on large portions of regional district land that could someday be developed into a true economic resource? Or are there alternative conservation measures that could still allow for economic development like this?

Conservation of the land base is important, but so is the potential for wealth creation that comes from projects like Copper Mountain - a fact that is certainly not lost on Upper Similkameen residents and politicians these days.


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