1 – Scratching for Information
[I sent this message to my social media network just prior to the Public Information Centre in Geraldton on Monday, March 21, hosted by Greenstone Gold Mines. The following message is an adaptation sent to selected media outlets. The Times Star published it, but I’m not aware of others that did.]
As a resident of Greenstone, I am following the Environmental Assessment (EA) process and the Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for the proposed open pit gold mine. And, as a citizen journalist (i.e., serving without pay), I am digging into the process and statements because they are both egregiously neglected by the legacy media (radio, television, newspapers).
The latest Public Information Centres are:
Longlac Open House – Sportsplex – Monday, March 21st – 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Geraldton Open House – Royal Canadian Legion – Monday, March 21st – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Thunder Bay Open House – Valhalla Inn, Scandia Room – Wednesday, March 23rd – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
If you are searching for specific information on Greenstone Gold Mines’ website, you are liable to be either (a) disappointed, or (b) frustrated. The websites for Premier Gold and for Centerra Gold yield even less information. (Refer to PDF, 3 pages, in Dropbox* http://bit.ly/1UeeLgR)
For example, none of the websites announces the upcoming meetings. There are no news releases about the meetings. There are no preview presentations of the meetings, let alone agendas.
In the November 2015 Public Information Centres (PICs), people expressed frustration about not being able to access public comments and responses about the July PICs. In spite of GGM’s reassurances, nothing was posted subsequently on its website.
In the table (PDF, 12 pages, in Dropbox* http://bit.ly/1pVkHhQ) of public comments and responses for the November meetings, I came across the phrase “Record of Consultation”. That set off a train of thought: “ROC”. I had seen that label for one of the sections of the Draft EIS/EA. If one is prepared to spend hours at the keyboard, one can extract specific information. Buried deep, I found the public comments and responses for the July meetings (large file, 133 pages, in Dropbox* http://bit.ly/1Ra4EWk).
This example may serve to illustrate that finding specific information on the Draft EIS/EA is highly frustrating. There is no search function. And, don’t expect hard copies at PICs.
You may discover that outside of the PICs, extracting specific information from real people is a very disappointing process. Following the November meetings, my telephone calls and e-mails went unanswered, even when addressed to specific people.
In a democracy, we all agree that voters have the responsibility to inform themselves. In the past, voters depended heavily on the legacy media. The legacy media is now being supplemented by or (depending on your perception) being largely replaced by the Internet media.
We can no longer rely on the legacy media to keep us informed. And, a large percentage of our population has not yet fully adapted to the Internet media. In the case of Greenstone’s proposed mine, It is incumbent upon two other parties to help keep residents informed.
Greenstone Gold Mines has a big responsibility. In my opinion, the responsibility extends far beyond occasional public information centres. This message will form part of my public comment on the week’s meetings.
Our municipal government now has an enormous responsibility. It has a duty to help keep us voters regularly informed and to consult with us voters on big issues in a timely fashion. This message is being sent to the Mayor and Councillors and key office staff.
I trust that this message and the links to longer files can help you understand what is happening.
If neither you nor I care about the transformative events that will occur very soon in Greenstone, who will care?
Edgar J. Lavoie
Resident of Greenstone
*You don’t have to have Dropbox to view the file. Click on the link, an icon appears urging you to sign up or sign in. Ignore that request. Drop down to the last line, which reads “No thanks, but continue to view→”. Click that line.