Mt. Polley Restart a “Huge Relief” says Williams Lake Mayor
Williams Lake, B.C. – “It’s a huge relief.”
The reaction of Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb to the announced restricted restart of Mount Polley mine this week.
“It’s great. As far as I was concerned it was long overdue but I guess there’s a process that has to be followed to make sure it’s done and done properly,” he says. “But it was really good news, not only for me but for the many unemployed as well as the business community.”
Cobb says the announcement likely kept many area businesses from shutting down.
“I’m told some of the smaller businesses that depended on the mine did not put in their fall orders because if this didn’t go forward they were probably going to close their doors.”
The restart of the mine will also be felt in the neighbouring community of 100 Mile House.
“It (Mt. Polley) employs close to 30 people. 30 employees that were laid off when that shut down, so that’s a lot of people in the small community we are,” says 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall. “It’s a good start, we’ve got progress, that’s the main thing.”
United Steelworkers local 1-425 president Paul French agrees the restricted restart was “a good news announcement,” but says despite that it will still leave a huge portion of the mine’s workforce unemployed.
“We’re over 200 people still unemployed. Hopefully in 30-40 days we’ll have up to 200 back,” he says. “In its heyday of last July (prior to the breach) there were close to 400 people working on that site.”
French says many of those workers “are running out of EI benefits” and have “got mortgages to pay” and as a result some have already left town.
“Undoubtedly some have left. I mean you can only hang around for so long.”
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have hope moving forward.
“It’s really unfortunate they’re not bringing everybody back but that’s why we’ll keep the pressure on the mine to make sure their submissions for future permits are good.”