polluters need to payKootenay residents say polluters need to pay and are concerned they’ll be left to cover the cost of environmental damage caused by local industry, new polling reveals, as almost half the region struggles to make ends meet.

Nine in ten Kootenay residents (92%) believe the cost of environmental restoration and clean up should be fully covered by the companies responsible for the damage, according to the province-wide poll carried out by Research Co.

Meanwhile, two in five residents (42%) reported they’re either just getting by or falling behind on monthly expenses, with housing, healthcare and the cost of living foremost on people’s minds.

polluters need to pay

The results come just weeks after an independent report found Teck underestimated the cost of partially cleaning up water pollution from its Elk Valley mines by billions of dollars, leaving taxpayers on the line to cover the gap.

Casey Brennan, Conservation Director at Wildsight, which commissioned the poll, says: “The results couldn’t paint a clearer picture. The province continues to heavily subsidize the mining industry with exploration tax credits, lower carbon taxes and other ‘incentive’ schemes. Residents want to know they’re not going to be saddled with the cost of cleaning up the mining industry’s messes on top of all their other financial burdens.

polluters need to pay

“More than half of Kootenay residents think the province’s regulation of pollution and environmental damage from mining isn’t tough enough, and 80% want politicians to do more to stand up to corporate polluters.

“When it comes to cleaning up environmental damage from Teck’s Elk Valley coal mines, it’s the same story. Almost two thirds of residents (60%) have no confidence in foreign companies like Glencore, the Swiss mining giant that’s about to take over these mines.

“People are worried they’re going to be left to fund the clean up of this environmental catastrophe, and that fear is not unfounded. The reality is that Glencore intends to spin off its coal assets within two years, so we have no idea whose hands these mines will end up in, how financially secure they will be, or what their environmental commitments will be.

“Kootenay residents want to see the government doing more to protect them — an overwhelming majority (86%) say Canada should require Glencore to give financial assurances to cover the entire cost of environmental restoration for these mines before the sale goes through.”

polluters need to pay

Research Co.’s poll was fielded online in mobile and desktop formats across British Columbia from March 26 to April 4, 2024 inclusive. A total of 1,531 interviews were completed, yielding a Bayesian credibility interval of approximately ±2.46 at a 95% confidence level. Data is weighted by latest Statistics Canada population estimates for economic region, gender, age, and

Mario Canseco, Research Co. President, says: “People know how they feel about this particular issue — they’re not undecided — and they want more action to hold corporate polluters to account.

“In the Kootenays, we’re seeing that play out in the selenium contamination crisis with a strong public desire to ensure these mines are properly bonded before Canada approves their sale to a foreign company.”

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