On February 12th, 2010 the world tuned to BC Place and watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics. And since that Friday night, people from all over the world have been watching or if you were lucky enough to have won the ticket lottery, you have been attending Olympic sporting events. Bottom-line, the people of BC have been distracted over the last few days.
It is no wonder then that the announcement from the Premier’s office that the province of BC and neighbouring Montana have signed a partnership agreement to sustain environmental values in the Flathead River Basin received so little attention from the public or the press, for that matter.
Premier Campbell had this to say about the agreement reached between BC and Montana;
“Today’s agreement will ensure the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin are sustained in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses to maintain the healthy eco-system that exists today,” said Premier Campbell. “It will also lay the foundation for us to co-ordinate on climate action and to pursue clean, renewable and low carbon energy that will benefit our citizens. I want to thank Governor Schweitzer for his leadership on this important initiative and for our ongoing partnership on issues affecting both B.C. and Montana.”
Governor Schweitzer added;
“This agreement helps ensure the protection of the Flathead Basin and Glacier National Park for this generation and generations to come. I want to thank Premier Campbell for his leadership and commitment to working together to make this collaborative agreement a success,” said Governor Schweitzer. Over the next few months we will be working with our respective federal governments to implement the additional necessary actions.”
Now the key to the agreement is that the permissible land uses in the Flathead River Basin no longer include mining oil and gas and coal development. That means that any individual or corporation who holds mining rights…well…they no longer hold mining rights in the Valley.
Cast your thoughts back in time to 1993 when the NDP were in control of our provincial legislature. The NDP government of the day revoked the Canadian mining company Geddes Resources Ltd permit to develop the Windy Craggy mine. The area that was being prepared for mining is now known as the Tatshenshini Park.
As compensation, the provincial government expeditiously approved a mining permit at Kemess Creek. As well, the company was awarded a $160-million compensation package.
When Premier Campbell was asked by reporters what will happen to businesses that do hold oil and gas leases in the Flathead River Basin, the Premier replied that, “We will make sure they are not punished for this.” Later he added that any compensation would be “minimal.” Perhaps he was also casting his thoughts back to 1993 and the compensation granted for the revoking of the Windy Craggy mining permit? The government has also stated that the government intends to “engage with the existing mining rights holders in the valley.”
I have emailed NDP Environment Critic Rob Fleming as well as NDP John Horgan, the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Critic for comment but have received no replies. It might be interesting to know what the Official Opposition has to say about the Flathead River Basin and the need for compensation being paid to mining companies for the loss of their rights. When or if they do return my emails I will post their replies.
Overall though, this one might be interesting to watch unfold. Traditionally, BC miners have been pretty supportive of the Campbell Liberals. It will be fun to see what their friends in government do for them this time around. Stay tuned.