The Quesnel Seniors Centre was a lively spot to be on Tuesday evening as the Cariboo’s placer and hard rock miners gathered to listen to BC’s Conservative Leader John Cummins talk about some of the outstanding issues that are on the minds of most placer miners these days.
John and his wife traveled up by car to the hub of the gold fields after CMA member Linda Brown had extended an invitation to him to come and speak to the association.
While John has not had a lot to do with placer mining he did relate a story about how he had worked for a period of time on the WAC Bennett dam back in the 1960s when it was under construction and experienced what it was like working underground.
He also told the audience that his own life as a commercial fisherman on the west coast of the province was in many ways very similar to that of the small, independent miner and the types of issues and concerns that the placer miners have paralleled his own experiences while working on his boat.
The CMA has been pressing government on a number of issues regarding the volume of bureaucratic overburden that miners are expected to remove each year prior to going to work. Onerous permits and fees and increasing regulations in terms of first aid requirement plus complex forms to fill out were just some of the issues that came up for discussion.
The topics of Environmental issues and First Nations consultations by each placer miner who is forced to comply with regulations that the miners feel ought to be dealt with by the provincial ministries were addressed by Cummins who also took time to explain to the members how the treaty negotiations have worked over the past twenty five years or so. As John put it if the resources of the province are not controlled by the province and dealt with in a fair and equitable manner to the benefit of all the citizens of B.C. then what’s the purpose in have a provincial legislature.
John fielded a lot of questions from CMA members in the audience and while he didn’t have all the answers to the many issues he did assure them that his party would be taking their concerns seriously when they became either the Official Opposition or the party to run the province come the next election in 2013.
After John had finished speaking he was given a warm round of applause and then was presented with a fine looking gold nugget donated on behalf of the CMA and member John Bot. Chris Winther, President of the CMA, made the presentation and thanked John for taking time to come all the way up to the Cariboo to speak to the group.
In a news release from party headquarters on May 9th, 2012 John had the following to report regarding his visit to Quesnel:
“British Columbia’s Conservatives are a party that puts the little guy ahead of the special interests,” said Cummins. “That’s why we support policies that will make life easier for everyone from placer miners to hard working families. Policies like scrapping the carbon tax that makes everything more expensive, especially for people who have to drive long distances.”
“We believe that the natural resources of this province belong to all British Columbians and the process of granting permission to extract those resources should treat everyone the same from the largest company to the smallest claim-staker. And no one group or community should have veto power over the development of those resources.”
“Small businesses employ more than half of the private-sector workforce so government should be making life easier, not more complicated for small businesses. Small businesses do not have access to the lobbyists and insiders who influence the Liberal government in Victoria – and so they have been losing out. Decisions like cancelling the small business tax cut show you were the Liberal priorities lie.”
“British Columbia’s Conservatives are the only ones who will stand up for small businesses and individuals against the special interests, lobbyists, and cronies who control the old line parties.”
For further information on John Cummins and the BC Conservative Party please contact the following:
[Note from Admin: The following open letter has been sent via dog sled to Premier Christy Clark and 19 other government and media locations. Its purpose is to draw attention to many unnecessary and onerous policies that restrict and place undue hardship on the placer mining industry in B.C.]
Dear Premier Cristy Clark,
We, the Cariboo Mining Association (CMA), are sending you this letter, partly by dog sled, in the hope that you will take serious note of our concerns as placer miners.
The CMA is centered around the city of Quesnel and has been actively advocating for and representing the placer and hard rock miners of the Cariboo – Barkerville goldfields since 1952, adding to and providing both a steady source of income for both local miners and businesses as well as furnishing the province with resource revenues that have not ceased to end since the historic 1860’s Gold Rush.
For the past sixty years or longer the region has been heavily dependent upon its forests as the prime source of revenue but as that industry is moving more and more into decline the search for placer minerals is once again on the upswing and along with the dramatic rise in the price of gold more and more people are once again staking ground and heading back to the hills in search of the yellow metal.
Mining is now fast becoming a major economic driver for Quesnel, and this fact is evident in the growing number of local businesses (seventeen to date) who are now supporting and sponsoring the CMA as corporate members. But for all this renewed excitement and activity we continue to be hampered by Government red tape when it comes down to actual planning and production. Therefore, as established, working miners we would like to bring to your full attention some of the more urgent and onerous government policies that plague our ability to grow and prosper. These include:
1. The constant threat of fee increases that target the established miners even though we have shown the unfairness of this practise.
2. The stymying effect of maintaining unreasonable and illogical limitations on the amount of yardage that can be mined on a cell in a season.
3. Being forced to pay a carbon tax on diesel fuel that we burn long distances from any urban centers.
4. Demands that we, as individual, small scale miners, negotiate with a separate level of government, i.e. First Nations, when it comes to obtaining the necessary permits to perform our work. And this in view of the fact that the provincial government itself has been unable to resolve longstanding treaty issues for close to a century and is now attempting to download its own responsibilities on to individual members of the private sector.
5. Government has closed long established placer areas and when asked why cannot scientifically or rationally justify their reasons for having done so.
6. Miners have been targeted as a cause of Caribou habitat destruction even though reclamation rules are in place to insure there are no ecological problems connected to our industry and meanwhile the government’s own forestry sector continues to carry out vast spraying programs of herbicides and pesticides that have long term, detrimental effects on the natural habitat of the region.
7. Government plans to deactivate access roads in mineral rich areas of the province when we view road accessibility as an asset to the prospector and ultimately, to the miner, the tourist and outdoor sports and recreation and fishing industries as well.
These seven concerns are some of the main grievances which the Cariboo Mining Association has concluded are preventing their industry from expanding and moving forward in the years ahead. It is our firm belief that mining opened British Columbia up historically and the continuation of exploration and utilization of the provinces natural mineral resources ought to be pursued by government in a reasonable and responsible manner to ensure that the working people of this province survive in these challenging economic times.
Cariboo Mining Association
P.S. The envelope and information card contained in this letter are considered collector items. It is suggested that you hang on to them.