Editor:Taseko’s “revised” Prosperity mine proposal is fascinating on a number of levels but I’ll focus on just one.Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook recently expressed her delight “that Taseko is moving ahead on this project.”
She went on to endorse the new proposal because it “keeps Fish Lake intact, and this new design proposal adds another $300 million to the already huge amount of expenditures we can expect to see the mine contribute to our economy.”
But Cook had been equally enthusiastic about Taseko’s previous mine proposal, which included the elimination of Fish Lake: “Williams Lake council has clearly stated our support for this project and we understand there are groups and individuals who do not agree with our position. However, this is not, and should not be construed to be a racial issue” (100 Mile House Free Press, Sept. 14, 2010).
And after the federal government turned down Taseko’s application Cook had this to say: “We’ve supported the project from the beginning. The reason why we’ve supported that is we felt there was far more opportunities with a ‘yes’ decision” (Vancouver Sun, Nov. 3, 2010).
The federal government’s comprehensive review of the application had determined that the “opportunities,” to which Cook refers, were in fact deeply flawed. They might for that reason be better described as “opportunistic.”
The federal government declined Taskeo’s permit approval because the financial benefits were substantially outweighed by a more broad-based review, which had included social, environmental, habitat and First Nation impacts.
The provincial government, on the other hand, neglected to perform an equally broad-based benefit/liability analysis because it had wanted a predetermined “yes” outcome.
The provincial government and Mayor Cook’s blind support for this mine application puts into question whether they should be playing any role in evaluating mine applications.
Their attitudes seem to be that any mine will do. Luckily the federal government stepped in to set that right.
The Williams Lake community deserves better due diligence from the province and its mayor.