Court gambit a long shot

The summer 2013 is half over - or we have half the summer left, depending on how you want to look at it - and it’s been hot and dry.

The summer 2013 is half over – or we have half the summer left, depending on how you want to look at it – and it’s been hot and dry.

Nobody is complaining, at least not that I’ve heard. It’s been an idyllic summer for sitting on the deck and enjoying a cold one after a hot day of whatever, even if you might have to kill a few wasps first.

The 2013 Big Pig festival is ramping up for this weekend. Anyone with a mountain bike who hasn’t entered an event should think about it. There are races for any level of rider, and the energy at these things is worth experiencing.

Even if you don’t think you have a competitive edge, that’s fine. You don’t need to be competitive to have fun in a race. You will probably have more fun – and ride faster – not taking it too seriously and just staying loose. Some people don’t find out just how competitive they are until they get into a race.

I don’t know how many of you are following Pacific Booker Minerals (PBM) lawsuit against the province over the rejection of its Morrison copper/gold mine project north of Gransile. We’ve mentioned it a few times in these pages.

One thing that’s interesting about it is disagreement over the potential impact to salmon fisheries on the Skeena watershed and on Lake Babine.

It could be argued that the, at the time, unquantified spectre of a potential impact to the Skeena fishery was one of the major reasons why the provincial ministry of environment decided against granting an environmental assessment certificate to the project.

Back in the fall of 2012, PBM was able to point out that interior fisheries had great returns the previous two years. In fact, they did just that in one of their information statements made before launching their lawsuit.

With the current collapse of this year’s fishery, what do we make of PBM’s position now?

Is ‘cumulative effect’ coming home to roost? Has the Skeena fishery been taxed on too many fronts for too long so that it can no longer sustain itself?

Scientists can’t tell us exactly what triggered this event. We don’t even know whether or not in a perfectly healthy watershed this kind of thing could happen on a regular, cyclical basis.

Is it a 50 year event, a 100 year event? Or is it something completely new and stemming directly from excessive pressure on the ecosystem that supports the sockeye return?

Whatever it is, it doesn’t help PBM’s case. If it was good enough to mention a strong return in defence of the mine proposal, it’s logical that a bad return should raise red flags about further potential environmental impacts from mining, or anything else, on the watershed.

I don’t think a betting person would side with PBM on this one and expect the courts to overturn the province’s decision. We expect our elected to leaders to act according to their best judgment.

With record low sockeye returns this year, I’d bet the ministers involved are breathing a sigh of relief that they hadn’t signed off on a mine project so hotly criticized by those who depend on the Skeena fishery for their sustenance.

 

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