Workshops were recently held in Courtenay and Port Alberni by government representatives seeking input from local organizations on how they would like to see the structure of the upcoming public comment period and public meetings for the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine, expected in mid-Spring.
CoalWatch Comox Valley was one of the groups invited to attend, and chairperson John Snyder said although it was encouraging to have these events, time will tell if the suggestions made by him and members of other concerned groups will be heeded.
“The proof will be in the pudding and we’ll see what the actual format is when these things take place,” he said.
One thing is sure however, he said, the fact that they held these meetings at all shows government is aware of the public’s vehement concern.
“I think it is unprecedented on their part to go to the public and ask for this kind of feedback,” he said. “And I think that’s a good indication that there is widespread public concern about this proposed project.”
Alhtough Snyder said his first choice would have been an independent review with full public hearings, his second choice would be the public meetings. Twenty eight organizations released a joint letter to government officials following the workshops summarizing their suggestions for the public meetings such as allowing e-mail submissions for public comment, that all comments and questions raised during the public meetings be officially recorded and that meetings not be held until 14 days after the release of the documents.
More information about the letter can be found on CoalWatch’s website www.coalwatch.ca.