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Raven Coal Project did not include rail benefit

Stacey Gaiga, Alberni Valley Times, March 13, 2015

Port Alberni - This letter was mistakenly published in the March 10 Alberni Valley Times with additional material not written by Stacey Gaiga. The Times regrets the error. Here is the original letter in its entirety. [March 10 version]

Compliance Energy dangled the rail option like a carrot to our community since Raven coal's inception because certain officials in Port Alberni are train aficionados whose sole focus and desire is to revive rail; everything else is irrelevant.

Including the basis of the "aggressive opposition" that exists because the company continues to fail to provide plans to mitigate all the significant adverse effects that have been identified by the environmental assessment agencies, the working group, the public and other government agencies.

Former Raven Coal president and current director, John Tapics, initially stated the company was "willing to build a spur line on their property", with no indication of who would build the rest of the railway to Port Alberni or that it would trigger an additional new environmental assessment review process. Meanwhile, in a letter dated November 24, 2009, to the Environmental Assessment office Tapics wrote, "we do not believe a spur line into the site is environmentally or economically viable". He then presented to the Tseshauht First Nations and the Alberni Valley chamber of commerce that trucking coal was the preferred and chosen coal transport method.

During the presentation to our Chamber of Commerce in 2012 Tapics quite ambivalently reiterated the 2009 letter, "you can't get to Campbell river by rail, you can get to Port Alberni by rail".

When asked, "would the company be prepared to fund in part or in whole the railway", Tapics responded, "the project can't sustain the capital required on the railway" and, "the railway is not capable of hauling coal from Buckley Bay to Port Alberni".

Then in his next breath he stated, "We would certainly consider a railway option, of course the Island Corridor Foundation would need to find a way of upgrading the existing rail, and it would need to be cost competitive". He ended with, "I guess the shorter answer would, uh, be no".

There has never been one legitimate iota of a benefit offered by Compliance energy regarding rail revival to Port Alberni. To write such absurdity that this benefit was lost, when it never existed, is foolish.

Stacey Gaiga
Port Alberni

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