Monday, August 28, 2000
Oh, the mines, they are a changin'
The tough rules placed on the Diavik mine water licence represent a vast shift in the way the business of mining is conducted in the Northwest Territories.
Gone are the days of staking a claim, drilling and blasting until the resource runs out, and then leaving taxpayers on the hook for cleanup costs.
Under the new rules, Diavik must pony up $116 million over the course of the next seven years as a security deposit on the land's integrity. As well, the water around the site will be monitored at 68 locations.
Proponents of the mine might argue that the restrictions are prohibitive, but there is a good reason the measures are in place.
The hard lessons of the mining industry have taught us to demand payment for the cleanup before any mess is made. When the resource is gone, and the company dissolved, it may be too late.
Royal Oak is a case in point. Through political manoeuvering and the threat of lost jobs, the company was able to dodge the pollution issue.
Year after year, Royal Oak's water licences were renewed at Colomac and Giant mines, even though their tailing ponds were substandard and Giant's archaic roaster belched tonnes of arsenic into the air.
Taxpayers are left with the large and expensive task of cleaning up after the bankrupt company.
Now the law requires that miners pay in advance.
Add to Giant and Colomac the ecological disasters we've witnessed at Port Radium and Rae Rock and there is no need to wonder why Northerners are wary about mining.
Some will argue that the demand on Diavik is harsh or excessive, and perhaps there is a middle ground. But until it is found, it's much better being safe than sorry.
Education then and now
As Education District No. 1 marks 60 years of teaching Yellowknife's children, it's good to celebrate the past, but more important to look to the future.
School was different when Mildred Hall taught the first students in 1939. It was enough to teach children to read and write, add and subtract, multiply and divide.
You didn't need to know the ins and outs of e-mail and the Internet. Penmanship was critical and keyboarding was unknown.
Some things don't change. Children must still learn the basics.
And they still need the wisdom and guidance that teachers can provide.
District superintendent Judith Knapp understands some of what's in store for education in the future, but she alone can't ensure that Yellowknife education continues to meet the needs of our children.
To do that, she needs the support of involved board trustees, the backing of dedicated teachers and the involvement of enthusiastic parents.
Seniors get hosed
Residents at Aven Manor last Tuesday got a little more than they bargained for during the senior centre's annual fire drill.
No sooner were the 29 residents, 10 staff members and two visitors out the door, following their rehearsed course of action, than they found the evacuation route they were to follow was blocked with a fire hose.
A bit of confusion followed, but never fear, our learn-as-you-go firefighters assisted walker-bound seniors and those in wheelchairs to their prescribed safe zone.
While we commend the fire department for having the wherewithal to hold the practice run and to admit to the lesson learned, we believe the majority of praise should go towards the seniors themselves, for being such good sports.
Untreated dogs pose health risk
Although the recent visit by two animal health specialists to Rankin Inlet was a success -- more than 100 animals received were checked out -- a disturbing trend was noted.
The vast majority of the animals brought to the vet and animal health technologist were house pets. Out of all the working dog owners in Rankin, only Dyan Gray and John Hickes had their large number of dogs looked at. In fact, Gray and Hickes were the only ones to have their large number of dogs checked during last year's vet visit as well.
Large numbers of dogs not getting their vaccinations and living together in close quarters is a potential health disaster. It's fine to have working dogs that may not be looked upon or pampered as "pets" in the traditional sense, but these are still living, feeling animals that should be given a fair chance at a healthy life.
After all, compassion, common sense and the ability to reason are three of the key human characteristics separating man from animal.
Let's start applying those characteristics and take better care of our animal population.
If Community Government Minister Jack Anawak thinks solving the notorious Rankin can caper is going to earn him any points among Rankin voters, he may have to think again.
Anawak's popularity has been slipping dramatically in his home riding and the growing consensus among voters is that he's more concerned with Nunavut's capital than he is with the Kivalliq Region.
That's not going to change by upping the money to rid our dump of a bunch of old cans.
Anawak's failure to produce an artificial ice surface for a regional arena in the hockey mad Rankin Inlet -- despite his many promises in the past to do all that he could -- has been the latest mark against him in his home riding.
Both Anawak's and his fellow minister and Rankin MLA Manitok Thompson's track record during the past 16 months pale in comparison to those of our other Kivalliq MLAs at the local level.
If Anawak and Thompson are planning a last- minute infusion of improvements to their home ridings to bolster their sagging popularity, they might want to consider putting their plans into action a little quicker.
If not, come next election, the empty spot at the Rankin dump left by the pop cans just might be filled with the remnants of a couple of political careers.