Photo: B.C. mine project rejected thanks to activism

Fish Lake is at risk of being destroyed by mining (Credit: Landkeepers).

The federal government rejected a mining company's application to turn a lake into a tailings pond thanks to citizen action and scientific research.

Thousands of Canadians of all political stripes opposed the project by sending personal letters, emails, and messages via Facebook and Twitter to the federal government. They were spurred to action by the outreach and research of the David Suzuki Foundation, and our partnerships with First Nations and other environmental groups.

What was at stake? The gold-copper mining company, Taseko Mines Limited, proposed to dam creeks feeding Fish Lake, drain it, and dump its waste rock into the emptied basin. It would've destroyed the lake and its fishery forever. Situated near Williams Lake, B.C., the lake is also known as Teztan Biny and is an important traditional site for the local First Nation.

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The mining project was reviewed by a special panel convened by the federal government under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Strangely, the B.C. government refused to participate in the panel as it normally would, possibly because the province has already approved the project.

The Foundation gave advice on the project when the panel offered citizens and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide comment.

The panel concluded that the project would result in significant adverse environmental effects on not only fish, habitat, grizzly bears, and navigation, but also the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by First Nations, cultural heritage, and certain potential or established Aboriginal rights or title.

Three alternatives to the project were proposed during the panel review, one of which would avoid the destruction and contamination of Fish Lake. But all of these options have been rejected by the company as being too costly.

After the panel, Canadians from across the country contacted the politicians who would have the final say in Fish Lake's fate. After much public outcry, the federal government chose to reject the tailings pond application.

The more voices that speak out on an issue, the better chance these voices will be heard. It is with thanks to the activism of everyday, passionate citizens that saved Fish Lake from destruction.

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