Friday, July 31, 2015

MLA Rice's voice is missing from Banks Island conversation

The Banks Island mining site
falls in the middle of the
North Coast riding of
MLA Jennifer Rice

Considering the location of the Banks Island mining project and the current concerns related to potential pollution from it, the lack of comment on recent events from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice seems somewhat surprising.

Banks Island, which is located just south of Kitkatla falls within the North Coast MLA's constituency and the environment has long been a concern of Ms. Rice's going back to before her time on Prince Rupert City Council.

So to take note of a lack of awareness, or comment with an ongoing situation that should be right in her political wheel house makes for a puzzling thing.

And while the Legislature is on summer vacation once again, with the workload obviously somewhat reduced for our elected officials, Ms. Rice still could have at least offered up a statement of concern when it comes to the environmental issues that have been raised in recent weeks.

Taking the opportunity to note for her constituents that she is watching the developments with interest, if for no other reason, than to reassure those in the Gitxaala Nation that she's keeping the topic at the top of her watch list.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
in the Legislature earlier this month
However, a ramble through her various and widely used information portals of a Facebook pagetwitter feed, You Tube video archive and constituency website find no mention of the Banks Island incidents that have now led to a review of the practices in place at the mining site.

Nor to this point, has there been any comment from the MLA noted in the growing list of media items related to the recently announced review by Environment Canada into the situation at Banks Island.

That interest picked up significantly over the last two weeks, as a number of media organizations  became aware of the incidents and the moves from the Province of British Columbia to examine them further.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the first notice of possible concern over those mining practices was raised in early July, when the NDP mines critic noted his interest in the developments.

Al Hoffman, the Province of British Columbia's Chief Inspector of Mines told Global News this week that he had received photos from NDP MLA Norm MacDonald on July 9th, outlining the concerns that the NDP critic for Energy and Mines had forwarded to his office regarding the mining project on Banks Island.

If that timeline is correct, that would suggest that the topic could have been of some discussion in the NDP caucus room in Victoria anytime between July 13 and the 21st when the Legislature met in summer session.

And while mining is not part of Ms. Rice's NDP oversight in the Legislature, events near Kitkatla and the area surrounding Banks Island should be something that she must be aware of, making for an issue that the MLA should have something to offer towards when it comes to the current discussion.

Perhaps Mr. MacDonald, who represents a riding near Revelstoke should contact Ms. Rice and give her the heads up and more background on what's happening in her own backyard.

When you look at some of her previous comments of concern over environmental issues over the years, one would think that the Banks Island mining situation could be an issue she might want to look into a bit further.

You can review more items related to mining in the Northwest from our archive page here.

Further background on the North Coast MLA's efforts in Victoria can be reviewed from our Legislature Archive page.

Update: Shortly after 4 PM on Friday afternoon, the North Coast MLA issued this statement on the Banks Island Gold Mine situation.

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