Representatives from Peru and Colombia visit Canadian mining regions
In June 2015, partners of the Sustainable and Inclusive Communities in Latin America (CISAL) Program travelled to mining regions in Canada to better understand the mining and municipal context in Canada and identify potential areas of technical assistance. Participants included Executive Directors of the local government association partners in Colombia and Peru, as well as representatives from the national environment and mining ministries of both countries. This study tour marked the beginning of CISAL's capacity-building efforts. Canadians, Colombians and Peruvians were able to learn about each other's experience in dealing with the challenges and opportunities inherent to resource communities and build the foundation of a fruitful and lasting partnership.
The study tour took participants to British Columbia to learn from successful experiences in the mining sector. Participants also met with municipal representatives at FCM's Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, and federal government representatives in Ottawa. Among the many topics covered, the Colombian and Peruvian representatives were most interested in the strong relationships between mining companies and municipalities, the long-term strategies to achieve sustainability at the local level, and the effective governance structures of FCM.
Comparing the mining contexts of each country
A workshop was organized in Vancouver with the support of the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI). The workshop brought together representatives from the provincial government, the municipal sector, the academic sector, the mining sector, and the study tour participants to discuss mining and local development in the three countries. While the legal frameworks vary in each country, the challenges faced by local governments and communities can be very similar.
Mining municipalities and sustainability
The Mayor of the City of Kimberly, Don McCormick, described the transformation his city went through following the announcement that the Sullivan Mine would close. The municipality developed strategies to diversify its economy and remain sustainable. "It has been fantastic getting to know mining regions that have transformed themselves -in the case of Kimberly- into tourist areas" described Alfonso Velasquez, President of Sierra Exportadora Peru, a key partner for local economic development.
The City of Kimberley's Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Sommerville, took the group to the former underground mine which has been transformed into a tourist attraction. The group was then taken to the Sun Mine, which is transforming the reclaimed mine site into a field of solar panels that will generate and sell electricity, benefiting Kimberly's regional economy.
Good practices in Elkford and neighboring communities
In Elkford, representatives from the neighboring communities of Sparwood, Fernie, Regional District A, as well as Teck Resources, came together for a workshop chaired by Elkford Mayor, Dean McKerracher. The workshop addressed main challenges that mining communities face and highlighted Canadian municipalities' good practices in developing a tax-sharing agreement, strengthening economic development, among others practices.
"One of the lessons I think Elkford can offer is our track record on communicating and working in collaboration with all partners involved... as a municipal level of government, some issues may be beyond your control, and instead of being 'for' or 'against' the issue, make sure you are 'for' the interests of your community" said Curtis Helgesen, CAO of Elkford.
The CISAL program is a $20 million, five-year initiative (2014-2019) funded by the Government of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). CISAL partners work to strengthen the capacity of local governments in Colombia and Peru to successfully manage the impacts and benefits of mining development and promote sustainable economic growth.
This information is also available in Spanish.