Williams Lake Mayor, Union Leader Applaud Mt Polley Decision
Prince George, B.C. – The provincial government’s decision to allow Imperial Metal’s Mt Polley Mining Corporation to return to full production this week has Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The mine is one of Williams Lake’s biggest employers with over 100 of its residents working there.
Consequently, he says the mine has a direct impact on the economic health of his community.
“I was very pleased of course with getting as many people back to work as we can,” says Cobb. “There was a lot hanging on the decision and a lot of people that were waiting to get back to work.”
He says it will also have a positive “spin-off” effect on other businesses in town.
“For the other services like machine shops and those kinds of things.”
And in the wake of the tailings breach almost two years ago, Cobb says he’s confident the government has done its due diligence in reaching its decision.
“The tailings pond is secure and when you look at all the regulations they had to go through to get it there, I think we’re pretty confident that everything will be safe and sound.”
Victoria’s decision also has the support of local United Steelworkers president Paul French.
“We’re pretty happy that this happened, we were getting quite nervous. We’re also quite pleased with the effort that the employees have put in and all the hard work that’s gone on out there to get to this stage.”
He says it ensures hundreds of workers will remain employed.
“They (Imperial Metals) had a temporary permit out there, they were running full, so this just ensures them to keep producing tonnage,” says French.
“Our expectation is that yeah, we hope they’ll keep producing and it’ll result in getting back to where they were prior to the breach, but at this time there’s about 240-260 unionized workers out there.”
As for First Nations support, Chief Anne Louie of the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) did not respond to a request for an interview with 250News though Cobb guesses the government’s decision likely has her support too.
“I know they were a big part of the consultation process and they were always at the meetings that I was at with the minister of environment and what not so as far as I know, they are on board.”