With the Ajax review process expected to resume at any time, Coun. Denis Walsh wants council to call two special meetings to prepare the City’s response and give the public a chance to comment on a consultant’s report.
Walsh filed a notice of motion at today’s (Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017) City council meeting that will come forward for debate next week.
The environmental permit application review was put on pause last April at the request of KGHM Ajax so it could better respond to the many questions raised about its application. The pause came on day 107 of the 180-day review phase and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office has yet to re-start it.
Once the BCEAO gives the green light, the review resumes at day 108. The City must submit its final responses by day 135. SLR Consulting, the firm hired by City Hall to do an independent evaluation of the application, has yet to submit its final report.
Only one open meeting has been scheduled for council to receive the SLR report and decide on a response to the BCEAO on the project. Walsh is worried that between the time the process is re-started, the SLR report is filed, and the deadline, council will be severely squeezed for time, and there will be no room for public consultation.
His motion asks for a special meeting to get a status report on SLR’s study, and another after the final report is received.
Here’s the complete text of Walsh’s notice of motion:
January 17, 2017
Presented by Councillor Walsh
Notice of Motion for January 24, 2017
Final Report from SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. and Request for Additional Special Meetings.
WHEREAS… the exact date is unknown, however whenever the EAO does approve the restart of the KGHM/Ajax mine permit application, the process will be restarting at day 108 with a deadline of day 135 for the City to give final responses on the KGHM project application (original 180-day maximum timeline).
WHEREAS… the current schedule of one open meeting for Council to receive and respond to the final report from the City consultant (day110-115) there is insufficient time for Council to digest the voluminous summarized technical report from SLR/City staff. With having just one scheduled special meeting, this does not allow any time for sufficient contemplation nor any public engagement process. It is important to hear valuable feedback on the final report from SLR and staff, from concerned residents on both sides of this highly contentious issue.
WHEREAS… with an acknowledgement that it will be no small effort for city consultant SLR and city staff to get a final report ready within a week of the restart notice of the review period, an earlier less voluminous update could help lessen the amount of new information to comprehend at final presentation. The city consultant has been working for the past eight months side by side with KGHM/Ajax mine representatives and EAO staff to address the many concerns and questions unanswered within the original application. It would be helpful for Council to receive an early progress update from SLR on their findings to date, to share information on whether KGHM has been able to satisfy some of the initial concerns to date and a summary of the issues that require more clarification.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED… that due to the unexpected lengthy pause in the KGHM/Ajax mine application process and a short deadline of 28 days, once application process is restarted, for the City to submit their final responses to EAO, it is recommended that Council schedule two additional special meetings to help alleviate the concerns expressed above;
1) schedule an additional special meeting for an immediate progress/update from the City consultant, before the process restarts and prior to the already previously scheduled special Council meeting (day 110-115);
2) schedule a second additional special meeting, a number of days following the final SLR/ staff presentation to Council, within days 116-125, to give sufficient time for public engagement/feedback and allow sufficient time for proper Council deliberations and thoughtful consideration to this highly contentious project proposal.
This new open meeting schedule is structured to allow Council and Administration sufficient time to draft our summarized written response’s and send to EAO before process deadline (day 135).