One Hundred and twenty-five years ago, more people lived between Kaslo and New Denver than in either Los Angeles or Vancouver.
Nine villages sprung up on the wagon roads and railroads built between the two cities. Sandon was the largest at over 8,000 residents and today is a shadow of its former self, with five residents.
With the decline in mining, and then forestry, the local economy entered a thirty-year slide. Residents moved from the area. After graduating high school, young people left as there were no jobs with a future.
Our public services are now being cut. The Kaslo Hospital is 9 to 5, five days a week. The New Denver Hospital is on a one-year extension. Half our population is over 65. We need full time medical services. Medical needs are 24/7. Scheduling is not an option for most serious medical issues.
Zincton offers a partial solution to the economic and social decline in the area. By developing a small lift-served ski area with a large touring tenure adjacent, we will bring jobs, for old and new residents and develop a reasonable and low-impact recreational facility. This will reverse the population decline and offer upwardly mobile jobs for our youth. Using three different methods of projection, we expect to develop roughly 200 new jobs which would then generate another 100-150 associated jobs.
Ski area jobs are not low paying. Millwrights, equipment operators, ski instructors, mountain guides, professional sales staff and managers are all highly skilled. To keep skilled staff, a ski area must pay wages competitive with similar businesses across the province. Yes, there are entry level jobs, but there exists a future in those jobs.
Tourism allows entrepreneurs to flourish. Zincton will encourage and blossom with the inclusion of a broad variety of new businesses. Already, we are talking to local businesses that want to partner seeing the opportunity to expand.
There is no glass ceiling in the ski industry.
The power for the project will be green. Nikola Tesla installed the hydro-generating system in Sandon in 1897. This unit, still going after 125 years, originally powered Sandon, with 8,000 people, and the Slocan Star Mine. Silversmith Power was certified green in 1999.
The land brought many of us to the area and we are concerned with the land. The mining left tens of millions of tons of slag on the ground. Run-off leaches heavy metals. Arsenic, lead and others are picked up and flow into the Kaslo River, then into Kootenay Lake. For 125-years. We need to stop this massive toxic run-off. The Kaslo River water is considered toxic, not to drink or bathe in.
The animals along the river drink this toxic mix. The fish are swim in it. Zincton joined 1% for the Planet to set aside 1% of ski area operating revenues for remediation. With our 1% partners and the independent non-profit Zincton Institute, we will have the funds and expertise to make a serious dent in the toxic mining waste.
While in the winter the mammals leave the tenure for areas with a lower snowpack, in the summer the proposed tenure is a critical north/south migration corridor. Zincton proposes the first Summer Wildlife Migration Corridor in BC. Let the animals move freely. As always, individual access with be open, but Zincton will discourage and eliminate all commercial activity in the area. 80% of the proposed tenure will be a wildlife conservation area, supporting migration and eliminating the waste left by a toxic industry.
We are committed to making the land cleaner and preserving it for future generations. The land will always remain open to locals at no charge.
Much has been made by a few about Consultation with the Autonomous Sinixt. In the recent BC Supreme Court decision the rights of CCTSinixt First Nation members to hunt and forage on their traditional lands was re-established.
The Autonomous Sinixt, as best as we understand, have yet to achieve status and standing with the CCTSinixt, the BC Association of First Nations, nor the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Under the supervision of Mountain Resorts Branch, Zincton is in consultation and discussion with the CCTSinixt and other concerned First Nations.
Zincton will not be pushed to intervene in this important and complex process with First Nations, now underway for many years. For this issue to be blatantly manipulated in a hateful manner in public, on Facebook posts, Instagram and Twitter is irresponsible and detrimental for all Indigenous parties and the important process of Reconciliation.
Zincton looks forward to being advised of the final outcome, once the all groups have come to an agreement.
Today, we must deal with a depressed economy, a declining and ageing population, eroding public services and the toxic mess left by the past extractive industries. We must deal with it now, not in one year, or five, or ten.
The Kaslo River is toxic. Our hospitals and other provincial services are being withdrawn. Our kids are leaving for opportunities we cannot begin to offer. We can start to change this with Zincton. This represents the opportunity to balance our past with our future. To repair the land, to create a new economy and to preserve the land for future generations.
A previous Op-Ed asked the question “Is the Cost Too High?”
We would ask, “Can We Wait Another Day?”