The Raven and the Oysters
The controversial Raven Coal Project began its life in the Comox Valley in 2009, when the Compliance Coal Corporation applied to the BC government for an Environment Assessment Certificate. Public meetings were held and lines drawn in the sand; specifically the sand on the beach of Baynes Sound where half of the value of the commercial shellfish in BC lies on the shore and suspended from rafts and floats in the water.
The project’s proponents contend that it will create approximately 350 well-paying jobs over a 16-year period in the Comox Valley and area: About 20 jobs at the port in Port Alberni, another 50 transportation jobs, and 280 full-time mining jobs. Much of the benefit to the Comox Valley would be in the form of mining wages as well as supply and contract provisions for the maintenance of the mine throughout its life.
Nevertheless, the project has met with a lot of local opposition. Both the BC Shellfish Growers Association, with its office located in Comox, and Coal Watch, a local grass roots group, have campaigned against the mine. The organizations have expressed concern over the impact on the shellfish fishery of Baynes Sound. Coal Watch has also pointed to the environmental impact of transporting the coal from the Sound to Port Alberni.
Earlier this year I sat down for separate interviews with John Tapic, CEO of Compliance Energy Corporation, and Mathew Wright, Marketing and Communications Manager for the BC Shellfish Growers Association, to get their very different perspectives on the project.
BC Shellfish Growers Association
Compliance Energy Corporation