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Pender residents still on alert over mineral claims

Dec 07 2012

Call the police if someone is trespassing on your property. That's what Gary Steeves, North Pender trustee with the Islands Trust, is telling Pender Island residents alarmed about two men staking mining claims on private property.

"There are lawful processes to deal with this," Steeves said.

"We are telling people to say, 'You are not allowed on my property.' If they won't leave, [you] should call the police. If they put pressure on you, call the RCMP."

Cpl. Rod Pick of Outer Gulf Islands RCMP, with headquarters on North Pender, said no calls have been received.

"At this point it is not a police matter, but we will get involved if need be," he said.

Pick said legislation appears to require that Isaac McPhee and William Simons, the Pender residents who staked the claims, must give eight days' notice before going on someone's property.

"Right now, landowners are getting legal advice and a lot of people are up in arms," Pick said.

McPhee and Simons have staked mining claims on most of North Pender and a large portion of South Pender.

Under legislation enacted in 1892, the Crown owns subsurface rights in B.C., the Ministry of Energy and Mines said in a statement. "On Pender Island, as throughout B.C., subsurface rights belong to the Crown," the statement said.

However, before there can be "any mechanical disturbance on a claim for purpose of exploration or prospecting," the claim holder must apply for a Mines Act permit. No permits have been issued for the Pender Island claims.

One of the areas claimed is where a Capital Regional District water improvement project for Magic Lake Estates is being constructed.

The project includes a new treatment plant and pipes, which is being paid for by residents as well as the federal and provincial governments. Some Magic Lake property owners are worried the mining claims could increase the project's cost.

However, Tim Tanton, CRD water services senior manager of infrastructure and engineering, said nothing has changed.

"Claims have been staked, but work has not been delayed," he said. "There have been no financial claims against the project."

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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