Tuesday is the first anniversary of the tailings pond disaster in Likely, B.C., when 25 million cubic metres of waste water spilled from the Mount Polley mine.
Residents had their drinking water supply cut off, couldn’t fish from lakes and rivers, and in some cases, had to visit the general store to take a shower.
Peggy Zorn, who runs EcoTours BC in the small town near Williams Lake, says she’s getting on with business, but the stigma of the environmental damage has dented her bottom line.
She says they’ve had to work hard to retain clients with no help from the mine owner, Imperial Metals, or the government.
“Advertising that we normally wouldn’t have to do. We made a trip to Europe to assure our agents and travel people that we work with that, yes, everything is fine, we’re still in business, the bears are still here. The people can still come and see them in the natural environment.”
Zorn says things are still tense between tourism workers and those who work at the mine, which was recently permitted to ramp up production and re-open.
She questions that move, saying the government didn’t properly consult with everyone affected by the tailings pond disaster.
Matt McCracken who runs Morehead Lake Cabins and Campsites says he thinks people in the tourism industry are part of the lingering problem.
“They want to say, ‘Oh yeah everything is terrible.’ Well, it’s not. I just wish they’d close their mouth because you’re killing the tourism here.”
McCracken says he thinks the mine company and the government have done a fantastic job on the cleanup, adding that the fishing at Polley Lake is the best it’s ever been.