New Denver council, October 25: Zincton update

Presentations on the Zincton resort proposal were made by David Harley, New Denver resident and lead project proponent, and Mike Walsh, a decarbonization, energy, and sustainability strategist from Somerville, Massachusetts.

Harley’s presentation covered a broad range of topics, including plans for remediation of the Retallack Mining District’s toxic waste, issues related to Search and Rescue and safety on the site, response to concern about increased traffic flow, electric buses between Kaslo and New Denver, a 10,000-acre Summer Wildlife Corridor Protection Zone, and energy generation. Of particular interest to council was the presentation by Mike Walsh, focusing on an emerging energy storage and generation system involving ammonia.

Representatives from the historic Silversmith Power and Light plant in Sandon were also present. “Green electricity for New Denver is already produced at Sandon – but is not sustainable due to the cost of production,” said Hal Wright of Silversmith. “An opportunity exists on the ‘skirts of Zincton’ to make better use of the existing hydro plant at Sandon.”

In response to a question from Councillor Colin Moss, Harley agreed to put together a short presentation for Interior Health, to elaborate on the potential benefits of the Zincton development to healthcare in the area. “Zincton will produce population growth, thus providing a basis for healthcare facilities and other services,” Harley said. “Zincton is a modern-day gold mine which could improve the economy of the area.”

Councillor Vern Gustafson asked how far along the Zincton proposal was in the planning process. “We are waiting for approval from the BC government to move forward to the Master Plan stage,” Harley replied. “This is a multi-stage process leading to a document called an ‘operating agreement’ that lays out public land use.”

When asked about the impact on local airports (Castlegar and Trail), Harley said he expected little use of those airports and that skiers would most likely be drawn from the Okanagan, Spokane, Seattle and points south, and from Highway 1. Harley explained that visitors would stay three to four days, thus mitigating highway traffic volume.

Harley concluded by inviting people to view the Zincton project website (Zincton.com) and to contact members of the Zincton team with questions or concerns. He and Walsh also agreed to provide copies of their presentations to the Village.

Local election report

CAO Lisa Scott provided a report on the local election. Leonard Casley was re-elected as mayor, and John Fyke and Colin Moss were re-elected as councillors along with new councillors-elect Casey Law and Danika Hammond.

Election expenses were budgeted at $7,500. Not all invoices had been received, but Scott anticipated that total expenses would be less than $7,500.

The Village uses the provincial voters list, which did not include the new residents brought into the Village through the boundary extension. There were 109 people who registered as voters either in advance or at the polls during this election, increasing the number of voters to 528 (from 423). Scott’s report said the new voter information will be forwarded to Elections BC so the provincial voters list can be updated.

Old landfill site assessments

The CAO provided an executive brief on the Rural Resident Attraction Pilot Project, where the Village was granted $40,000 to assess the former landfill property for future development. Bear Environmental was hired to do site assessments, which showed minimal heavy metal contamination but elevated arsenic levels. Further testing to determine the cause for the elevated arsenic has not been successful, so the information was shared with Contaminated Site Approved Professionals, who recommend sampling soils further up Galena Trail. Bear also recommends a ‘PBET risk assessment.’ PBET stands for ‘physiology-based extraction tests.’

The Village has spent $32,638 on the project so far, and the Galena Trail testing will use up the rest of the funds. Additional funds would have to be found to complete the PBET assessment.

Provincial riding changes?

Council was presented with information on proposed changes to provincial riding boundaries. A virtual public hearing on the proposed changes will be held on November 8, and it was suggested that the Village submit comments for that hearing.

Interested citizens can attend the virtual hearing on November 8 at 5 pm. For more information, visit https://bcebc.ca.

Margaret Scaia, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice