The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada delivered almost 15,000 petitions against Schedule 2 to the Confederation Block where Environment Minister Jim Prentice has his Parliament Hill office this week. The delivery was made in advance of a federal Cabinet decision on the future of Teztin Biny (Fish Lake), a freshwater lake that is facing the threat of destruction under Schedule 2.
Schedule 2 is a loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER) of the federal Fisheries Act that allows metal mining corporations to use lakes and rivers as toxic dumpsites. Once added to Schedule 2, healthy freshwater lakes lose all environmental protections.
The federal government is expected to announce its decision on Taseko Mines Limited’s proposed “Prosperity Mine” project as early as Friday September 10. Located in British Columbia, southwest of Williams Lake, the project calls for an open gold and copper mine in the heart of Tsilhqot’in First Nations territory. While the province approved the proposal, a federal review panel rejected it last month saying it would have “significant adverse environmental effect and significant cumulative impact on fish and bear population and habitat around Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Fish Creek and Little Fish Lake.” Generations of the Tsilhqot’in people have opposed the project, which would jeopardize a sacred site of great cultural and historic significance. The lake and its surroundings have been an important source of food security for the Tsilhqot’in who have lived, fished and hunted in the area for thousands of years
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The Council of Canadians has joined the Tsilhqot’in’s fight against the destruction of Teztan Biny, arguing mining companies should not be allowed to use healthy Canadian lakes as dumpsites. Our Williams Lake chapter joined a petition campaign, organized packed-hall information evenings and took part in rallies to help build public awareness about the proposal. The Council’s BC Regional Organizer Harjap Grewal and National Water Campaigner Meera Karunananthan presented at the federal review panel’s public hearings protesting Taseko’s plans.
“Canada is one of the few countries in the world where mining companies are allowed to dump their tailings directly into lakes and rivers,” said Karunananthan. “Schedule 2 remains a threat to all lakes in Canada and must be eliminated. In the meantime, the federal government must do the right thing and save Fish Lake from destruction.”
Send a letter to Environment Minister Jim Prentice and members of the federal Cabinet to demand that they reject this proposal. Go here to send a letter.
To read more about the threats posed by Schedule 2 to Canadian lakes and rivers go here.