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Council wants both KGHM, KAPA to chip in for independent study on Ajax mine application

By MIKE YOUDS

The City will ask mine proponent KGHM as well as its chief opponent, Kamloops Area Preservation Association, to contribute to the estimated $300,000 cost of reviewing the Ajax environmental permit application.

At the Ajax open-pit site, looking toward Knutsford.

At the Ajax open-pit site, looking toward Knutsford. (File photo)

Council voted unanimously Tuesday to draw the environmental consulting cost from its general fund reserve while asking the company and, by means of a last-minute amendment to the motion, the non profit society to contribute.

They also agreed to consider at the next regular council meeting whether to expedite public consultation as a preliminary step in preparing for the permit review process. KGHM is expected to submit its application, the penultimate step towards advancing its mine proposal, in late summer or early fall.

Once KGHM submits its application to the B.C. Environmental Office, the agency has 30 days to screen the document to ensure it fulfills requirements. After that, the process allows for a 180-day public comment period.

Aside from ensuring an independent review of the controversial proposal, the City should be readying itself sooner rather than later, said Coun. Denis Walsh.

“To shape the scope of the review from residents’ viewpoints so that we cover all those areas of concern,” Walsh said, explaining why an open house should be held in the second week of September.

“I already think we’re behind in this process by not taking a position,” he said. “I think it’s critical we do this study, critical that we hear from the public.”

Taxpayers have questioned councillors about the projected cost of the review, wondering why the City would spend $300,000 on a process over which it has no authority. The decision of whether the mine should be allowed to develop lies with the provincial Cabinet, not the City.

“I think we’re that intermediary trying to fund that non-partisan review of the data,” said Mayor Peter Malabar. “I’m comfortable with the process. It’s about as impartial as we could make it.”

Count. Ken Christian said he has confidence in the province’s environmental review process but due to the scale and proximity of the project, there could be a significant impact on Kamloops neighbourhoods. Aberdeen groundwater and air shed management in Pineview could be affected, he added. The City does not have the expertise to review the air quality and hydrological data, he noted.

Christian wanted the City to hold its open house immediately after KGHM submits its application, which was one of three options laid out by utilities director Jen Fretz. The other options were to hold the public consultation midway through the public comment period or once the City has completed its review of the application.

Coun. Donovan Caverns said he doesn’t feel taxpayers should have to pay the cost of independent review and Walsh said he is against taxpayers footing the whole bill.

It was Coun. Pat Wallace who suggested that KAPA should be invited to share in the cost along with KGHM. She said she had friends who have worked long and hard in their opposition to the mine.

“I think it would be a really good gesture to invite them in to participate as we are doing with KGHM,” Wallace said.

KAPA plans to hire its own third-party consultant to review the permit application and raised enough funds to do it by crowd-sourcing earlier this summer.

The notion that outside funding might come with strings attached was also considered.

“I would be comfortable with 50/50,” said Count. Tina Lange. “There’s always going to be a concern from people that there was some kind of bias. Why spend taxpayer dollars? This is the biggest thing that’s come on our plate in the last 10 years. I think it’s something that’s going to change Kamloops forever.”

Although council has taken no official stand on the mine proposal, councillors Walsh, Lange and Cavers have consistently opposed it,.

“This could be the biggest change Kamloops has ever seen in terms of how it will impact the city,” Walsh said. “The sooner we get concerns documented and fleshed out, we’ll be ahead of the game.”

About Mel Rothenburger (8416 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

11 Comments on Council wants both KGHM, KAPA to chip in for independent study on Ajax mine application

  1. I made a sizable contribution to the grassroots fund to support the opposition against the Ajax Mine development, if any of these funds are given to the City, then I want my money back.
    We really do have a group dummies trying to manage the affairs of Kamloops, don’t we!

  2. It’s official now. Council has moved from their position as the world’s greatest fence sitters to the dubious distinction of being the worlds worst clowns. Unbelievable !

  3. There is enough taxpayer money being spent on this already, Provincially and Federally. Let the kapa do their study and that’s it done. I am a little surprised cavers and walsh don’t want to spend taxpayer funds on this. But not surprised at lange wanting to spend.

    • Council seems to believe that taxpayers money grows on trees, and is free for the taking. Councils mantra is spend, spend, spend, there’s more where that came from.

  4. If the City had backed improving the BC MIneral Tenure Act for our citizens (as Tina suggested), and paid attention to Dr Peter Barss letter in June 2012, the City would have $400,000.00 and KGHM would have over $150 million ($50m per year) to do other things with.

  5. Sean McGuinness // July 29, 2015 at 8:20 AM // Reply

    In the interests of full independence, neither KGHM nor any opposition group should be paying anything for a review conducted by the City of Kamloops. If the city wants to form its own opinions based on a review, then those opinions should be free from the potential influence from the generosity of parties both pro and con.

    The city could argue its case before the provincial govt. We are in this situation not of our own accord.

  6. Pierre Filisetti // July 29, 2015 at 7:01 AM // Reply

    I am not sure what the air quality is like at First and Victoria however, based on what has been written in this article, there must be something down there deleterious to clear, objective thinking.
    To somewhat echo what has been said already, pitting a mining conglomerate with untold financial capabilities (especially in this case as KGHM is partially funded by the Polish government) against local concerned residents is not rational thinking. Based on what the rest of the world as already experienced as a by-product of mining, especially its dreadful environmental and social legacy, there are very valid reasons to be opposed to this project.

    • I’m not sure they are “pitting one against the other” (they are already on opposite sides of the project), but I think it’s inappropriate to expect anyone other than the company which stands to make a profit from this mine to chip in money (unless KGHM is also offering a share of the profits to KAPA? I hadn’t heard that 😉 ). I trust that KAPA will have the good sense to quash any notions of this happening.

      • Grouchy 1 // August 1, 2015 at 10:55 AM //

        KGHM already donated 5 grand to KAPA for their study. KAPA returned the money as inappropriate.

  7. It makes great sense to me, asking Kapa to chip in. I can hardly wait to hear their reaction.

  8. What? The City is asking a non-profit opposition group who does fundraising for their own shoestring budget to chip in for a City review of the proposed business they are opposing? I am speechless.

    In addition, there appears to be confusion about the public comment period. The application review stage lasts 180 days, but the public comment period is only open for a portion of that, typically 45-60 days after it has been posted on the EAO website.

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