By Annalee Grant
Cranbrook Daily Townsman
The executive director of Wildsight is urging the federal government to reveal documentation confirming the Dominion Coal Block is safe from mining and oil and gas development.
John Bergenske said he was delighted to hear MP David Wilks’ comments that a portion of the Dominion Coal Blocks found within the Flathead Valley Watershed is protected, but that Wildsight would like to see it on paper.
“I’m happy to hear MP Wilks say that this is the case,” he said.
Bergenske says that while Wilks has said the 6,290-hectare portion of land, formally known as Lot 82, is protected, there is no documentation that Wildsight can find confirming so.
Wildsight has teamed up with several conservation groups in the country including the Sierra Club BC to urge federal environment Minister Joe Oliver to release documents supporting Wilks’ claims.
“What we are seeking is confirmation from the minister that the Dominion Coal Block land in the Flathead are to be protected in line with the province’s ban on mining and oil and gas,” Bergenske said. “I’m not arguing with MP Wilks that that’s what he believes is the case.”
Teck Coal has interests in the area, but said last week that they had no interest in Lot 82 at this time, but would instead be pursuing Lot 73 to the North near their Marten Wheeler property. Bergenske said he was aware Teck was part of the process when the Flathead protection area was being looked into, but he worries about future development and other investors.
The groups have asked for a meeting with Oliver to discuss their concerns. He has yet to publicly reply to their request.