Sunday, April 04, 2010

Prosperity Mine Environmental Hearing (affecting Fish Lake and area) in 100 Mile House

Many powerful presentations made the case strongly against the plan, which includes filling pristine Fish Lake with mine tailings.  The few presentations in favour (beyond those from the mining company, Taseko) were based on the usual mantra of dependence on the mine to provide jobs which provide taxes which pay for social services.

As it happens, the South Cariboo has at least two well-advanced projects that are likely to provide increased income and employment for the area:
And these are sustainable: environmentally, socially and economically; no devastated environment left behind after 20 years.

I requested and was given permission by Martin Zibeau to publish his presentation to the 100 Mile House hearing (you can reach him at zibeau.ecojournal at

Presentation by Martin Zibeau at the Federal Environmental Assessment Hearing for the Prosperity Gold Mine (Fish Lake) Proposal


GENERAL HEARING SESSION - (Day and Evening Sessions)
March 26, 2010
Volume 8 Pages 1221 to 1425


Held at:

The Lodge & Conference Centre
Valley Room
100 Mile House
British Columbia

Presentation by Martin Zibeau

I was born in Quebec City.

And that was 42 years ago and as I've been listening to people talking today, I realize that in the very short period of time, Quebec City has gone from a very small, well, a fairly small town, and even we can go back 400 years ago where it was pristine and we could drink water everywhere, to now where it's impossible to actually drink the water from anything two hours of driving, to a two-hour driving radius.

I just want to give you a little bit of background on me. I just came from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territory where I've lived the past 10 years. And in a mining town, well, which is Yellowknife, a fairly big mining town, that the native people call Sumbukay (phonetic), which is the place where the money is, and it is also the place where a high rate of social problems are.

And now we've moved here in the area about six months ago. And I couldn't help but to come to the hearings today to share or just to participate as a Canadian citizen in a process like that to, to voice my concerns and to share my ideas.

And I hope that at some point more people, ordinary people like myself will take the stand and not fear that you have to be a specialist to talk about our own environment, the place we live in.

I have written a few words and those words are harsh. And they came out of my heart and my head but I still mean them as respectfully as I can.

And I will be speaking to the people of the mine Project, but I certainly do not wish to attack anybody personally.

The Project itself, as you probably will figure out, I don't believe is a good idea, but I certainly don't want to appear as wanting to attack anybody personally. And that's true for the Panel as well. So I will read my words.

I would like to say as politely as I can that the so-called Prosperity Mine has to be one of the most insensitive projects I have ever heard of. Once again, in the name of prosperity, we, through the decision making processes of our government are willing to defy the laws of reason and of logic. I would like to understand how we have come to think that we have the power to move a lake thousands of years old, a self-reliant well-functioning ecosystem from one place to another. And for what? Is it for gold and copper? If this is the answer, here is a suggestion: Mine the dumps of the world until no gold and no copper is found in the millions of dumps of the world. Leave the natural world along.

As a Canadian citizen, a long-time taxpayer, I am appalled to see that this kind of project is even considered.

Members of the Panel, I can imagine how complicated your job is assessing this Project. I can imagine how deep under bureaucratic kerfuffle you find yourself at the end of a journey like the one you are on now. Yet, I cannot imagine that justice, the law, or whatever else you want to call it, may provide the kind of buffer that you would need, you would be needed to live with yourself after okaying such a grossly disruptive project.

How could we, in 2010, knowing in what state the world is in, still think of allowing an open pit mine when what we really need to preserve our green spaces, which are the lungs of our planet.

Is money the only thing anyone working for the government cares for?

Are a few slightly richer stakeholders enough to justify the kind of damage we are about to cause?

Is there still room at the Assessment Agency for the question: How many Canadian citizens will benefit from this Project compared to how many will be harmed and for how long?

To the lucky few that will be lining up at the doors of Taseko Mines for a job, I would like to ask if the few dollars that they will bring home will offset the damages caused to their own neighbourhood?

What legacy are you going to leave to your children's children by taking part in such a project?

I can understand the appeal that a saviour like a big mining company can have on people. But let's not forget what these saviours leave behind when they have sucked the life out of the land and out of the spirit of the people they cared so much about.

Is it worth it?

There are other more sustainable options that could benefit members of a community in the long-term.

Instead of accepting that our government keeps spending large amounts of money to assess and rubber stamp projects proposed by big corporations that greatly benefit small numbers of people, we should demand that this money be spent helping us organize ourselves to create a future that we can be proud of.

I could not leave without underlining how embarrassed I feel regarding the treatment we give the members of our Canadian First Nations.

How is it possible for us to feel so superior to a people to whom we owe so much?

Please correct me if I am wrong, but haven't they taken care of the land we live on for thousands of years before we came and wrecked it, exploited it ruthlessly in just a few hundred years?

Should we not listen to the wisdom of the Elders for our own sake instead of bullying them like we do?

I really hope that one day we can set our feeling of superiority aside and use our intelligence to stop and listen for a little while.

And maybe then will we be able to stop being afraid.

Yes, I think we are afraid of these people that we have been living with for so long and of whom we have so little knowledge. Let's stop being afraid and let's sit face-to-face, people-to-people, governing-body-to-governing-body, and prove that there is still a possibility for adult human beings to be reasonable, efficient, and respectful.

I would be lying if I said that I am not angry.

But I am also worried for the future of my children if we continue to let our government be lobbied out of reason.
We need to react to the inbreeding created by the passing between the corporate world and the governmental world of individuals we elect.

The division that should exist between those two worlds is starting to be blurry for the citizen that I am. Therefore, it is harder and harder for me to trust that a Panel like this one is working in my best interests and the best interests of the rest of us ordinary citizens instead of in the interests of corporations.

If you cannot protect us from the doings of corporations, whose top priority is making money for their shareholders and not our collective well-being, then who will?

And finally, I would like to make a suggestion. If this Project goes ahead, and I strongly remember that it doesn't, in case it hasn't been clear so far, the names associated to the infrastructures, tailing ponds, access roads, the open pit, et cetera, should bear the names of the players in the Project.

Instead of the Prosperity Mine, I suggest that we call it the "Russell Hallbauer Mine" in honour of the President and CEO and the Director of Taseko.

To remember what happened to Fish Lake, the "Ronald Thiessen, Taseko Chairman and Board of Director, Tailing Pond." And surely, to remember how it came to be, the "Bob Connelly Access Road."

If this project ends up being as great as I assume you think it may be, then I will be glad in 20-some-years to admit that I was wrong about the "Russell Hallbauer Mine."

The New Campaign to protect Fish Lake  2012 - 2013

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