City ponders $300,000 for independent review of Ajax environmental application

Ajax, not just about jobs.

Ajax review will require more money, say City staff.

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.

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8 Comments on City ponders $300,000 for independent review of Ajax environmental application

  1. Peter LeGresley // July 28, 2015 at 6:56 AM // Reply

    Where is the money coming from?? This is not in the budget and shouldn’t be!! I know it’s hard for some municipal councils to understand “Balanced budgets”. Our city budget cannot afford a frivolous cost like this!! Let the KPA do It without taxpayer funds! The two levels of government are already using taxpayer funds that’s enough spending on this matter! There are far more important things that the council can use that money for in our city!! And again it’s not in the budget!!!

  2. So then how can KAPA only need 25K? What’s the difference between their independent review and the cities?

    • Excellent point !!

      • David Morris // July 26, 2015 at 3:58 PM //

        Not that the city shouldn’t do its own review. I know you might feel it’s not worth it given the city has no final say, but given how large and technical it is I would rather have an independent review done so that the people can know exactly what’s going on since no private citizen will really read all those documents. And IMO Ajax should contribute as well. Given the city already has a consultant lined up I can’t see ajax money tainting the review. Maybe KAPA could donate its 25k to the city for the review?

  3. LAWRENCE BEATON // July 25, 2015 at 7:49 PM // Reply

    If the city wants to have an independent review done, they should not be asking Ajax for money to help pay for the review.

  4. The city has no power to say Yea or Nay on this project, so why waste tax dollars on a consultant. I am not in favor of the mine, but we have to draw the line somewhere. This council just loves to shovel money out the door for the slightest thing unfortunately.

  5. Sean McGuinness // July 25, 2015 at 8:14 AM // Reply

    $300,000 isn’t very much money when you consider all the issues that need to be looked at. It might be better picking a smaller subset of issues that are really important (eg. health impacts) and have experts examine these in detail.

  6. So, the City wants to conduct an “independent” review of the Ajax environmental assessment permit application, and they want to ask Ajax to kick in some money towards it!! The mind fairly boggles.

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