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City councillor and MLA agree with B.C.'s Raven Coal decision

Julie Bertrand, Alberni Valley Times, May 22, 2013

Fraser said public scrutiny makes government stricter

Many people in the Alberni Valley applaud Victoria's decision to reject Compliance Coal's application for the Raven Underground Coal Mine Project, even those who are in favour of it.

Coun. Cindy Solda personally thinks the mine has the potential to bring back young people to live and work on Vancouver Island.

"If it's going to bring high-paying jobs and be environmentally safe, why not," she said.

Compliance Coal proposed to build an underground coal mine near Fanny Bay. The product would be sold to Asia and shipped there via a proposed coal port facility in Port Alberni.

Solda said she thought it was good that Compliance Coal was asked to add more information to its application.

"The government is not letting this go through like everybody thought it would," she said.

She added Alberni Valley residents should hear both sides of the debate before forming their opinion.

Through her work on city council, she has visited a coal mine and a coal port.

She said she did not see coal dust. "The times of have changed," she said. "The rules have changed."

Meanwhile, Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser said the government's decision reflects what the general public has been saying about the project.

"I believe there's a higher standard of evaluation brought to bear because of the public scrutiny," he said.

Fraser noted the B.C. government halted the application evaluation process during the election period because the Compliance Coal documents were not understandable and did not follow a logical pattern.

"If the supposed government experts cannot understand the documents, how can the public respond," Fraser asked.

Compliance Coal operations vice-president Stephen [Ellis] said the company planned to review all the comments from the B.C. government, add missing information and re-submit the application in the future.

"It's not unexpected to get the application back," he said. "We're not overly upset."

He said the date by which the application would be re-submitted is still up in the air.

© Alberni Valley Times 2013