Photo — Kathy O'Reilly

Rose Kochan’s grandson Tyler Howard is understandably a big fan of her crochet work that was for sale at the Port Hardy Farmers’ and Artisans Market June 27.

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Ongoing remediation at Island Copper Mine

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle, November 25 2022

While it may have been closed for almost 30 years, work continues at the former Island Copper Mine site. Representatives from BHP attended the Regional District of Mount Waddington monthly board of directors meeting Nov. 15 to give an update on the site today.

The Island Copper Mine was an open pit mine site that operated from 1971 to 1995 with primary reclamation activities happening from 1996 to the early 2000s, said Shauna Snyder, superintendent of Island Copper. 

At time of closure, the open pit was approximately 350 metres deep, one kilometre across, and two kilometres long.

The pit was flooded with sea water from Rupert Inlet when the mine closed and then capped with water from Marble River to create a meromictic lake that includes multiple layers of water, with different chemistries, that don’t intermix. Ditches, culverts, and water containment structures on the site capture mine-impacted water and bring it to the pit lake for treatment.

“You often will get mine-impacted water for years to come, so, managing that, getting it to the proper place and treating it, is one of the most important things that we do at the site,” Snyder said.

“One of the ways I like to describe the treatment system is that the meromictic system has three layers kind of like a cake. If you imagine a cake with three layers and then icing in between, those layers do not mix because the icing is always there,” she said. The icing layers can be referred to as “pycnoclines” where the density of the water changes between the main layers.

“The two major things that are happening to treat the water, is that we have sulphidic conditions in those two bottom layers that will actually remove metals and bring those to the bottom of the pit lake so that we are left with cleaner water,” she explained.

In the upper layer, fertilizer is added so that phytoplankton grow. Those phytoplankton cells hold some of those dissolved metals then drop to the bottom of the pit lake as well.

“It’s a really cool system,” Snyder said.

“Is there any wildlife or fish use of the upper layer,” asked Area D (Woss) Director David Summers.

“There’s no fish use of the upper layer and that’s by design,” Snyder responded.

At closure, rock dumps around the site were re-sloped to give them a more natural contour. They were capped with glacial till and then vegetated to give them more of a natural look  and provide advantageous wildlife habitat that can be managed in a reclaimed state.

 

 

Photo —Kathy O'Reilly

Shauna Snyder, superintendent of Island Copper, gives an update on acitivities at the former mine site.

Fixing health care requires multi-pronged approach

 

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle, November 25 2022

health care crisis will require a multi-pronged approach, says Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt. She made the comment at the Regional District of Mount Waddington monthly board meeting Nov. 15.

Corbett-Labatt told her colleagues she attended a two-day North Vancouver Island health care forum put on by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC.

While it would have been nice to see more political representation at the event, she said, doctors, nurses, ambulance personnel and Ministry of Health staff attended as well as representatives from First Nations communities and North Island MLA Michele Babchuk.

There was “a very broad spectrum of people, with very diverse and very concerning issues, for what’s going on in our health services right now and basically how committed everyone was to Mount Waddington Health and to the towns professionals,” Corbett-Labatt said.

“They know it’s going to be a multi-pronged approach and strategy not only to the short term but also to long-term solutions,” she said.

There was also concern expressed “for the mental health and family/life/work balance of all our physicians and nurses that are currently working up here,” Corbett-Labatt continued.

“They are respected, and they are key to keeping things going up here” and for that reason “we need to be kind to them,” she said.

“We keep getting from Island Health communication that the Port Hardy hospital is closed, and no one wants that. Island Health I’m sure doesn’t want to be sending out these communications, but the Ministry of Health is talking about it, everybody is talking about it.”

Corbett-Labatt felt positive about the forum because it was not Island Health putting it on, it was put on by an external body. 

There were Island Health representatives there, but it was the physicians that were organizing it.

“It was very interesting.” 

The first day covered what is working and what is positive in health care, and the second day looked at what individuals and what as groups can do to make the system better.

“It was pretty amazing how many people carved out days” to attend.

 

 

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Photo — Submitted

Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt attended a two-day forum on health care put of by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC.