New Prosperity will strengthen Williams Lake’s economy – by Kerry Cook (Vancouver Sun – July 29, 2013)

Kerry Cook is mayor of Williams Lake.

We are in the midst of a 30-day environmental assessment review panel hearing for the New Prosperity project, a copper and gold mine proposed by Taseko. This hearing will help the federal government determine the future fate of the project.

As local government we have a duty to seriously consider economic opportunities put before us. For us, New Prosperity presents an opportunity to strengthen the economic base of our region, provide new jobs and training opportunities.

The job potential is significant. Over the life of the New Prosperity mine, there will be 500 direct and 1,280 indirect jobs each year. We understand many industries are facing skill shortages. Taseko, however, has 1,400 active resumés on file. Now is the time to approve and build this project, which has the potential to expand our population base or offset downsizing in other sectors.

New workers will relocate here. This creates potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in new wages, which will go into our local community each week, benefiting new and existing businesses. New Prosperity will also grow the local tax base, which in turn will support the development of amenities, along with recreation, education and health facilities.

As well as being a huge economic generator on its own, New Prosperity may result in the expansion of existing businesses and the attraction of new investment in businesses that serve the project.

Williams Lake is currently a community dependent on forestry, but has previously and currently benefited from the mining and mineral exploration sector. Our city needs to realize greater economic diversification so that we minimize the impact to employment from any single industry or large business downturn. The science and environmental stewardship for resource industries is a good avenue for diversification, helping us build a knowledge-based sector that fits with our traditional industries.

Taseko already has significant combined experience for building and operating mines. With a new mine being built, this experience will grow and that bodes well for our city and region. This community could become a centre for mine training — and along with minerals, forest products and agriculture, one of our major exports could someday include mine consultants.

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