Council wants to know when mining gets approved within the watershed

Councillors were noticeably frustrated that nobody from the District was informed about a new mining operation in Peachland’s watershed.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources approved an exploration permit for Troubadour Resources, which will allow the Amarillo Project to proceed with copper prospecting 30 kilometres west of Peachland, which is within the District’s watershed. Since mining operations have the potential to contaminate drinking water, council felt the District should have been notified by the ministry responsible.

Troubadour president Geoff Schellenberg says it is not a mining operation.  The scope of the work is highly preliminary and the exploration activities will cause very little surface impact or disturbance, covering “basic ground work” comprising of soil sampling, rock sampling and geophysical surveys to determine if the potential is there to proceed with follow up exploration.

If the Amarillo Project does lead to drilling, Schellenberg said only small diameter bore holes will be needed and drilled into the rock to test for potential mineralization below the surface.   Drill stations generate a low impact footprint and with the company utilizing pre-existing road networks in its drill plan, the potential for land disturbance will be further mitigated.

“There would be very little petroleum products used other than the diesel we use to run the drill. Mineral exploration is a lot more environmentally friendly than it was in the past and Troubadour Resources takes its responsibility seriously. “

Nevertheless, most of Peachland council is annoyed that they have no control over which activities are allowed in the watershed.

Coun. Keith Thom said he’s “extraordinarily disappointed” the Ministry didn’t reach out to the District for input. “But the long and short of it is that it’s going to go ahead.”

Coun. Peter Schierbeck said the District doesn’t have the right to stop a mining business from conducting legal operations. He wishes the District was notified, but every mining operation has to take place in somebody’s watershed. He worries that opposition to the project will brand Peachland as a Not-In-My-BackYard community. He said mining, along with agriculture, is what established Peachland as a community.

Since there’s a risk of contaminating the public’s drinking water, “We have to take a stand on what happens within our watershed,” said Coun. Mike Kent.

Coun. Mario Vucinovic was less enthusiastic about taking action, citing how the issue is out of Peachland’s jurisdiction.

Even though the Ministry of Mines is the governing body, Mayor Cindy Fortin encouraged council not to have a defeatist attitude. She recounted how last summer Osoyoos council helped save their local high school from imminent closure, despite the Ministry of Education having higher authority over the matter.

Coun. Terry Condon sure didn’t have a defeatist attitude when he suggested annexing the watershed.

Fortin said that wouldn’t be impossible but she still asked if he was being sarcastic.

No he wasn’t being sarcastic.

“Much of our utility base is outside of our boundaries,” Condon said, so if council is serious about protecting its drinking water, an annexation should be considered.

If an environmental disaster does occur, Coun. Pam Cunningham asked who would be on the hook. Operations director Joe Mitchell said each mining company i responsible for any damages incurred, however, the people of Peachland would still have to deal with unsafe drinking water coming through their taps.

The area of exploration is currently covered in snow. Operations are expected to begin later in the year when the ground is thawed.

Council voted 5–2 to send a letter of opposition to the Ministry. Couns. Scierbeck and Vucinovic were opposed.

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