By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
The province has confirmed a suspected arson on a bridge across Adams River leading to a proposed underground mine.
A group calling itself Secwepemc Ts’ka7 Warriors posted a statement on an activist website, claiming responsibility for torching the bridge, located about 70 kilometres northeast of Clearwater, near Tumtum Lake on Oliver Creek forest service road.
“With much discussion with Elders Councils and around sacred fires and ceremonies. the Secwepemc Ts’ka7 Warriors have acted out their collective responsibility and jurisdiction to and in the Ts’ka7 area by deactivating the Imperial Metals Ruddock Creek mine road,” reads the statement online at popularresistance.org.
It is accompanied by an image of a fiery hand.
The bridge that was burned leads to the proposed Ruddock Creek mine, which Imperial Metals wants to develop.
Clearwater RCMP confirm it is investigating the suspected arson.
Steve Robertson, Imperial Metals’ vice-president of corporate affairs, said the company received a report earlier this week of a fire it believes was set on Oct. 11.
Robertson said the decking and railings on the bridge across Adams River are burned.
He described the damage as being a four- to five-foot hole in the middle of the bridge decking.
“It took quite a bit of fuel to get it going. Adams River is really turbulent and is directly beneath.”
Greig Bethel, a spokesman with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Development, said a temporary repair job will be done this weekend.
Bethel said in an email message to KTW the ministry has estimated the damage at $5,000.
“Structural inspections will be performed next week to investigate further,” Bethel wrote. “The bridge will be repaired this weekend with a temporary patch, but will remain closed to the public. It will not be rebuilt until next spring.”
Imperial Metals has applied for permits to develop the Ruddock Creek mine, located in an alpine area. In August, the federal Conservative government allowed a substitution of the federal review for Ruddock Creek mine in favour of an environmental review by the province of B.C.
Imperial Metals, which also owns the Mount Polley mine in the Cariboo, where a disastrous tailings breach occurred this summer, is not operating on the Ruddock Creek project at the moment.
Robertson said the road, including the bridge, is used by forest companies, anglers and hunters.
The ministry said traffic is typically light.
The statement from the Secwepemc Ts’ka7 Warriors warned government and the company to vacate the area:
“This is a warning to Imperial Metals Corporation: Leave our Lands and do not come back. This is a warning to the provincial government: You do not have jurisdiction on this Land to issue permits to any corporation. This is a warning to investors (including the province), contractors, suppliers and subsidiaries: Divest from Imperial Metals Corporation. We the Secwepemc, united, will not allow Imperial Metals Corporation to continue. Secwepemc Law will prevail in our Territory.”
Earlier this month, Neskonlith Indian Band issued what it called an “eviction notice” to Imperial Metals. Chief Judy Wilson could not be reached for comment.
Four bands — Neskonlith, Adams Lake, Little Shuswap and Simpc — have made claims to the territory.
“We do maintain regular contact with the bands,” Robertson said.