VICTORIA – Businesses that operate in the region near the Mount Polley mine are still waiting for Christy Clark to live up to her commitment to help deal with the damage resulting from the devastating tailings pond spill in early August.
“The premier gathered a collection of cameras to do a photo-op at Likely shortly after the spill, and she promised local business owners they could count on her to help,” said New Democrat opposition spokesperson for mining Norm Macdonald. “But once the cameras were turned off, the premier apparently forgot about that commitment.
“Meanwhile, there are small businesses who are looking at a potential collapse of their livelihoods and they have had no assistance from their government. That’s completely unacceptable.”
The spill from the tailings pond at Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine spilled an estimated 25 million cubic metres of effluent into surrounding waterways. While the full impact of the spill on the once-pristine wilderness is not yet known, at least four businesses are fearing the worst.
In a letter to the premier, owners of the four businesses – Valley General Store, Northern Lights Lodge, High Country Inn and Ecotours-BC / Pyna-tee-ah Lodge – said the premier told them that “if there is anything at all I can do for you, let me know.”
“As the reality of this disastrous event sinks in and we look toward the coming business year(s) we are realizing the losses and business disruptions we are facing and that immediate damage control is a necessity to ensure our businesses survive and that takes money and all other resources we can access,” they write.
“It’s been nearly two months since the spill and the premier’s empty words are no reassurance to the people who live in the region,” said New Democrat opposition spokesperson for the environment Spencer Chandra Herbert. “It’s the polluter who should be paying the costs, but these local small businesses are the ones footing the bill right now.
“The premier needs to live up to the promises she made to the residents of Likely and make sure that their businesses aren’t destroyed because of this environmental disaster.”