CMA’s Annual General Meeting Forges New Beginning
While the numbers were down compared to previous years the Annual General Meeting of the Cariboo Mining Association held downstairs in the Billy Barker Hotel in Quesnel, B.C. on Saturday, June 4th, 2011 brought together a respectable group of placer and hard rock miners determined to resolved past issues that have plagued the association for years and forge a new beginning.
The meeting was chaired by CMA President Chris Winther accompanied at the head table by 1st Vice President Donny Kirkham, Secretary Linda Brown and Director Celine Duhamel.
Two guest speakers had been invited to the AGM in order to address a number of concerns that placer miners have been discussing over the past months dealing with changes in government regulations, internal ministry changes and problems that miners deal with in their everyday operations on their claims.
The first speaker was Brian Murland of Fisheries and Oceans Canada stationed in Quesnel. Brian is the Field Supervisor for Conservation and Protection in BC’s Interior North district. He fielded a number of questions from the audience regarding regulations pertaining to on site activities on mining property. From dredging issues to other environment-habitat related matters Brian did his best to answer some of the tough questions that placer miners put forward.
One issue that has always been perennial for placer miners is that of protecting one’s tenures from over-zealous weekend-type wannabe “gold miners” who think they can come on to your claims and just start panning for nuggets. With the recent and popular television series about placer mining in Alaska plus the incredible increase in gold prices many armchair prospectors who don’t have a clue about the rules and regulations surrounding placer miners are expected to be roaming about the hills of the Cariboo in search of fast fortunes. The results of this phenomenon are not good and apart from the naive and misinformed novices there’s also the growing problem of serious theft with experienced gold snipers coming onto claims with mechanical equipment such as dredges and portable shaker plants, etc. when the owners are absent and within days processing valuable amounts of gold-bearing gravels and then leaving an environmental mess that the tenure holder is left to clean up.
Brian advised the members on a number of strategies to deal with the “recreational” panner. Posting signs warning strangers that the area was an active mining site was primary but also in the event of actual trespass he said that photographs of anything suspicious were of vital importance as well as taking notes of events that occurred. Brian then displayed a notice taken from the Ministry of Mines that he told the audience his department would be making available to the public that outlined some basic rules and regulations regarding recreational panning.
It was a lively debate and clarification on a number of issues was forthcoming. Brian has been in the area for over a decade now and so has a good working knowledge of mining and knows many of the placer miners in the region. He also notified members that he now has an additional two staff members to assist him and welcomed everyone to contact him with their concerns.
After Brian’s presentation and the question and answer period the meeting broke for coffee and donuts (thanks to the generosity of Donny Kirkham!) and this period was taken up with discussions amongst miners as many of them had not seen old friends for some time.
The second speaker was Adam Schaan, Office Manager for Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson. Adam presented the members with a brief overview of how the provincial government is now operating and the types of problems that have arisen since the recent changes in the provincial leadership of the Liberal and NDP parties.
One issue that has been on the minds of miners for some time now has been the proposed fee increases for claim holders. Up until the AGM many miners were gearing up for these increases happening this spring but Adam pointed out that with the limited amount of time due to the government not sitting in the house plus all the changes within the Liberal party itself it looked like these issues would not be dealt with until late in the fall and, in the event of a possible fall election, not until the spring of 2012 at the earliest.
Adam informed the members that Simpson’s office was contacting Randy Hawes, the new Minister of Mines and would be giving him a list of the CMA’s concerns prior to Hawes planned speaking engagement with the CMA later on in June or early July.
Following the end of discussions with the two guests the CMA got down to the business of holding elections for the upcoming 2011 – 12 year. CMA President Chris Winther made it clear to the membership that all the internal strife that had been taking place within the association over the past few years had taken its toll and had a negative effect on both dwindling membership and the moral of the organization and that he hoped that the upcoming Board of Directors and Executive would work hard to change this unhealthy pattern for the good of all the membership. There was a general sense that amongst the membership that yes, it was time to put old grievances and grudges aside and focus in on rebuilding the organization so that the upcoming challenges to the industry could be met head on by a strong and vibrant association.
When the dust had settled and the numbers counted the association had a new slate of people put in place who were determined to rebuild the infrastructure of the association, increase the membership and polish to a golden luster the public image of the Cariboo Mining Association’s public image.
The new Executive of the Cariboo Mining Association are:
PRESIDENT: CHRIS WINTHER
1ST VICE PRESIDENT: DON RABBY
2nd VICE PRESIDENT: DENNIS WITTNER
SECRETARY: ARTHUR TOPHAM
ASSISTANT SECRETARY: BILL WILSON
TREASURER: BRENDA DUNBAR
The meeting wrapped up around 4:30 p.m. with plans to postpone the next monthly meeting until July 12th at the Senior’s Center at 7:00 p.m.