Premier Clark ready to cut mining red tape
B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (FILE PHOTO TYLER ORTON/24 HOURS)
Officials from B.C.’s mining sector responded enthusiastically Monday to Premier Christy Clark after she opened Mineral Exploration Week in B.C. with a raft of pro-industry measures.
In her keynote speech to the Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver, Clark said her government would launch a review of environmental assessments, cut “red tape” to streamline mining permits and extend a $10-million mining tax break,
“We know red tape is a barrier to the private sector,” she said. “Government doesn't create wealth, but governments can hinder or enable it. Red tape clearly hinders the creation of wealth and jobs. The focus is to make it as effective and efficient as we possibly can.”
The roundup, sponsored by the Association for Mineral Exploration-B.C., saw loud applause and a partial standing ovation for Clark's remarks. She said the province has the “chance to be that generation that not only puts B.C. on path for new economic growth,” and pointed to a raft of new mine developments and applications now underway.
But BC NDP mining critic Scott Fraser dismissed her speech as “a lot of slogans that didn't seem based in any kind of reality.”
“She's taking credit for cutting red tape and permitting time in half,” he said. “They're calling it a win, but they've taken industry on a ride for six or seven years when permitting times were way above the maximum allowed.”
Fraser also disputed Clark's claim of boosting mining skills training and noted recent shortages and cutbacks.
“To have British Columbians benefit from industry is to have a skilled workforce,” he said. “But they cut in the midst of a current and looming shortage, they're almost engineering a situation where British Columbians will not benefit.”
Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen said Clark’s red-tape “rhetoric” is concerning, as long as First Nations and environmental concerns remain.
“When we start to cut red tape and regulation, you can be certain that more environmental disasters will follow from that,” he said. “It's unfortunate the government is not taking a more balanced approach to it.”