Canada has announced the start of a review of the nation’s environmental and regulatory processes, in an effort to restore public trust.
The government said this week that a belief that a clean environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand is central to the health and well-being of Canadians as they work to get resources to market and develop infrastructure projects responsibly in the 21st century.
The announcement is perhaps of particular interest to those with an eye on development of mines along salmon-rich transboundary waterways flowing from British Columbia into Southeast Alaska.
Karina Brino, president of the Mining Association of British Columbia, said that her association would be involved, through the Mining Association of Canada and also on its own. “The biggest challenge that we have as a society is to hold ourselves accountable for finding that common ground,”
said Brino, speaking to miners’ interest in exploration and development versus the fisheries industry’s concerns over potential harmful impact to salmon habitat. “Ultimately we all want the same things and we need to be respectful of each other’s concerns and work together.”
Pierre Gratton, president and chief executive officer of the Mining Association of Canada, said that as mining projects are regulated provincially and territorially, the federal government should consider how to improve coordination not only between various federal departments, but also with provinces and territories, to avoid delays and confusion.
“While we’re glad to see Canada recognizing that it needs to restore fish, habitat and water quality protections that have been gutted over the last decade, the key thing we are waiting to see is whether or not laws and regulations will actually be enforced,” said Chris Zimmer, in Juneau, speaking for Salmon Beyond Borders.
“The BC Auditor General’s recent scathing report on major flaws in BC’s mining enforcement and compliance programs and the ongoing inaction over acid mine drainage from the Tulsequah Chief mine in the Taku watershed have caused Alaskans to question how serious BC and Canada are about enforcing the law and ensuring mining activities do not harm salmon and water quality. Fixing regulations on paper is one thing, but the more important need is to actually enforce those regulations, “ he said.