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Raven Coal figures ‘inflated’: Armstrong

Katya Slepian, Alberni Valley News, Feb 19, 2015

Compliance Coal’s Raven Underground Coal Mine application presents neither a solid business case nor does it properly portray environmental risks posed to the Alberni Valley, said Jane Armstrong, member of the city’s select committee set up to provide input on the latest Raven Coal environmental review process.

If the coal mine goes ahead—this is Compliance’s second kick at applying—trucks carrying coal could drive through Port Alberni and a coal port be located at the harbour.

According to Armstrong, the committee took issue with assumptions made about “local and regional shares of employment.”

Jobs provided by the coal mine would fit into three categories; direct, indirect, induced. According to Armstrong, while some of the money from these jobs would flow into the community, much of it would not.

“You’ve got to subtract taxes and then what is in essence ‘leakage,” which is money spent outside the local community, such as grocery shopping in Nanaimo.

Armstrong also addressed the “image factor” of bringing a coal port to Port Alberni.

If there was even a five percent reduction in tourism revenue as a result of the stigma of having a coal port in the region, Armstrong said it would cancel out all of the revenue of bringing coal to Port Alberni.

Bringing a coal port to the city would also have marine, air quality and terrestrial impacts not properly addressed in the application, said Maggie Paquet. She added that although Compliance Coal has indicated that the trucks would be sealed, there is no guarantee that airborne particles—especially dangerous to children and the elderly—would not further degrade Port Alberni’s already poor air quality.

Impacts on the Somass Estuary have also not been considered, Paquet added.