Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley
Mayor Neville Greeley says Thomas Resources Inc. is done with its plan for the Corner Brook watershed.
The company emailed the city Thursday morning to say it was withdrawing its application to conduct exploratory drilling in the area.
It hoped to explore for garnet and kyanite in the Corner Brook Lake area. The company's proposed core drilling program, which was the subject of this application, involved the drilling of 21 small exploration holes.
Greeley said he later contacted Rod Mercer, chief executive officer of Thomas Resources, to express his frustration and disappointment with the decision. During their brief conversation Greeley said he was told, “That’s it.”
“I expect no future contact from Thomas Resources,” the mayor said during a noon news conference outside city hall.
Greeley said any questions about why the company dropped the application would have to be directed to it.
However, he said opposition to the project may have played a role in the company’s decision. A lot of that opposition, Greeley said, was philosophically based and impossible to debate.
“The fears were all in relation to things that might happen if we ever did get to a mine stage,” said Greeley.
He said an application can’t be rejected simply because of what may happen in the future.
Greeley, who supported the application, said it needed to be addressed on its own merits and based on the information that is currently available.
Part of assessing the project would have occurred through the public consultation process. Greeley said all comments from a previous consultation review and any new ones would have been considered.
He said the consultation process would have provided the public the opportunity to have “constructive” input in the project. For instance, he said the current buffer zone calls for no activity within 50 metres of the water, but the public might say that’s too close.
Greeley said he suspected that Thomas Resources’ parent company, Pennecon, did not want to be dragged into the middle of what is becoming a municipal election issue.
The mayor also referred to opposition to the project from within council. Greeley said the city has a set of development regulations in place that council recently voted unanimously to approve and that have been approved by the province.
“The very first application that we have under the new development regulations, we’ve got two councillors that are out there adamantly opposed without any specific identified threat to the water.
“So, I mean, if you’re going to be against any kind of activity, why are you voting for the development regulations?” said Greeley. “Councillors need to decide what their job is and do their job.”
The councillors Greeley referred to are Gary Kelly and Linda Chaisson. Greeley said Kelly has said via Twitter that he would not vote for any exploration in the watershed.
“That’s the same councillor that’s pounding his chest about going out and seeking economic development opportunities here in Corner Brook,” said the mayor. “We had an opportunity that was trying to come here, (he was) 100 per cent opposed to that, and in the same light wants to be going out attracting new companies to come here.
“I’m not sure you’d have any credibility with any company out there if that’s the approach you’re going to take.”
Greeley said he is concerned about the effect the company’s decision could have on the city and the message it sends to other businesses.
“You know any company that’s looking to do business is looking for a set of rules and regulations that they have to follow,” said Greeley. “And if you’ve got a council that’s got a set of rules and regulations in place and you’ve got a community that’s not willing to follow them, then it doesn’t send a very strong message, I can assure you of that.”
The mayor said while there is some retail interest in setting up in the city, there is no one knocking on the door with jobs that are driving the economy.
“We’ll never know what that potential is, or was or would be, because we’ve got the application withdrawn,” said Greeley.
The Western Star