NEWS/ AJAX — Kamloops City council will be asked next week to approve $300,000 for independent consultants to review the KGHM Ajax environmental assessment permit application.
And Ajax might be asked to provide some of the money.
An open house would also be held during the application review, which would follow KGHM’s expected submission in late August or September.
Public Works and Utilities Director Jen Fretz says in a report to council for Tuesday’s regular meeting that an external environmental review will require “significant attention” from her department.
“The decisions made as a result of these assessment processes are out of Council’s control, but the results can have major impacts on the City. Therefore, it is extremely important that the City has an effective voice throughout all processes in order to represent the best interests of its residents.”
She proposes “sole-sourcing” the City’s review. She said staff have been able to find only one company — SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. — that’s independent of KGHM and has the needed experience.
Fretz said staff needs help from external consultants and possibly legal experts to look at KGHM’s application. The City’s review will focus on the accuracy and validity of technical information presented by KGHM, and on concerns that have been raised by City Hall as far back as four years ago.
Robert Koopmans, KGHM Ajax’s senior communications strategist, said the company will watch Tuesday’s council meeting “with interest.”
“We see value in the City’s pursuit of an independent third-party assessment of the Ajax EA application,” he said via email Friday night.
“Such reviews have the potential to bring Kamloops residents clarity and comfort about the science behind the Ajax Project.
“We support the idea of proponents providing communities with capacity funding as part of the environmental assessment process. This is an issue that is coming to be recognized across the global resource development industry as a best practice. KGHM is happy to be at the forefront of this effort in B.C. and Canada.”
The idea for a public information session during the 180-day review period that will follow the application came up more than two years ago. Fretz said that session should be in the form of an open house.
Council added $50,000 to its operating budget in 2012 to address the Ajax project but only $26,500 is left and that isn’t enough, Fretz said. She said the additional money could come from reserves, but broached the idea of asking KGHM to provide some of it.
“The City would still hire its own environmental consultants to conduct the review on the City’s behalf,” she writes in her report.