Ontario should back off on mining at Grassy Narrows
By Andy Crump, on behalf of the Right to Know Campaign
Au Revoir Ontario, you have no idea what you’re doing.
In a revelation that is guaranteed to shock even the most disheartened of Grassy Narrows’ residents, you’ve decided to move ahead with a plan to mine gold and copper in the troubled waters off Grassy Narrows on the Skeena River.
Open pit mining is not your way to heal your climate change problem or create new jobs.
You say you want local jobs in a region of depressed economies in a city that’s been challenged by the opioid crisis and jobs.
It’s a bad idea.
As usual, you’re insulting the residents’ concerns.
Remember that, in 2010, your government mandated the closure of the only mine in the region at operations dubbed KSM, or Keno Hill. We’d hoped you’d welcome that development and enable a mining comeback.
Instead, you filled with four levels of government your plan to mine metal reserves in Grassy Narrows. It also provides no financial compensation for those communities and their residents.
But Grassy Narrows wants to be a part of the new Westminister economy. The last thing you want to do is push us to the fringes.
Grassy Narrows resident Aaron Heath said the decision could cripple his town.
Heath, who has lived in Grassy Narrows for almost all of his 41 years, said he and his children look forward to a day when their property is worth more than the rest of their lives.
They worry about what that day will bring and how they will survive without the operating benefit of a mine — but we’ve heard this kind of warning a time or two before and have a chance to fight back.
Grassy Narrows and its communities have to understand they are the employees in this fight.
Grassy Narrows has enough problems, without creating more ones.
From its salmon to its bow waves, Grassy Narrows is rich in natural resources to develop, yet precious few jobs.
Since Grassy Narrows and residents are the ones fighting to save their way of life, we’ve demanded you protect their health and the health of our other federal territories — Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Labrador.
But you’ve been so busy touting your economic success you haven’t paid attention to our concerns. You’ve worked to develop the Athabasca and northern Canadian resources in partnership with the private sector.
In doing so, you have done so in a way that leaves everyone behind, Grassy Narrows residents included.
Here are some of the factors you could help resolve:
Hydro: No matter where you mine, with hundreds of existing kilometres of privately owned dams that cross the Skeena River, the water you’re turning the basin into is wholly owned by Ontario.
A government study found that huge underground coal mines can dump into the and cause damage downstream, which would raise the cost of water you have to pay for, adding huge utility bills for your communities.
It’s up to you to end this uncertainty by putting a moratorium on all coal mining in Grassy Narrows — or better yet, assure residents they would not need to worry.
Emergency services: You have an emergency response and rescue plan in Grassy Narrows and all its neighbours.
But that will be tested by you when you force Grassy Narrows residents to move into the community you evacuated in 2010.
Roots, old people and children do best in their communities. Surely you’ll never endanger their health.
With cleanup costs looming, many Grassy Narrows residents might have to find more affordable housing — meaning less money for childcare or retirement.
Food safety: Grassy Narrows residents depend on the same food-handling standards you impose on other local and federal territories, yet they still worry about open pit mining creating unsafe workplaces.
Right to Know campaign to remove contaminants from groundwater