November 12, 2015 - 1:00 PM
PENTICTON - An offer has been made to the regional district to help with the historical preservation of the Nickel Plate Mine.
Representatives from Barrick Gold Inc. presented an offer to help fund the preservation at a regular Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board meeting last week.
Daniel Bornstein,Barrick’s closure strategist, and Senior Environmental Specialist Vanessa Bell met with the board to outline Barrick’s proposal to create a park out of remaining mine and mill infrastructure from the old Nickel Plate Mine. Bornstein said Barrick is prepared to offer some of the funding required.
The proposed site is highly visible to motorists, including the thousands of tourists who travel Highway 3 each year. The old workings lay just east of Hedley in the Similkameen Valley.
Bornstein said discussions with local residents has indicated many are interested in maintaining the historical integrity of the mine ruins. Bornstein’s presentation included a handout describing a similar project carried out at Barrick’s Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota, where the hillside surrounding the mill foundations were turned into a park.
“We want to leave a lasting legacy here. This proposal fits in with the regional district’s heritage aims,” Bornstein said.
Plans for the Hedley site would include walking and cycling paths around the mill foundations, along with interpretive signage, fencing around the remaining mill buildings and other infrastructure, and preservation work to solidify the remaining wooden structures that can be salvaged. Those that cannot be made safe will be taken down, Bornstein says.
The Mascot Mine is not part of Barrick’s closure plans. The Lower Similkameen Indian Band continues to run tours of the famous mine out of Hedley’s Snaza’ist Discovery Centre during the spring and summer seasons.
The regional district board, which is just starting to look at next year's budget priorities, questioned the sustainability of the project and how that would be paid for.
Keremeos Director Manfred Bauer said he feels more details of the proposal need to be known before a decision can be made to support it.
“We’re stretched here financially. We need to know how much (money) we are talking about,” he said.
Bauer noted there was great local support for the Grist Mill when the province tried to unload it to private sector interests a couple of years ago. He feels residents are interested in preserving heritage sites, but affordability is a key issue.
“This is a good idea, it fits in with regional district heritage goals,” he said. “We have to see the bottom line, and look at what we can afford.”
The board agreed to let staff look at the proposal and seek possible funding options, as well as potential community partnerships that could facilitate the proposal.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015