WE NEED to prepare for citizen involvement in the final report by SLR Consulting.
There was a huge interest and public turnout just over a year ago when SLR went public with its early review of KGHM’s Ajax application.
All indications point to another tsunami of attention for which we might want to start planning when the final SLR review results are made public in the near future.
It is crucial that an appropriate venue and adequate preparations are in place to encourage and support public interest in what SLR has found, for it could be a large factor in determining the future of Kamloops.
On March 18, 2016, SLR Consulting presented its preliminary findings to the public and KGHM in the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University. It was estimated that upwards of 600 residents attended to hear the findings from the city-hired consultants.
SLR at that time raised many questions and highlighted numerous deficiencies with the 18,000-page application submitted by KGHM and its consultants.
By September 2016, the environmental services supervisor for the city said SLR Consulting would need about $200,000 more to finish its review of the application for the proposed copper and gold mine south of Aberdeen. He cited at the time delays in the Ajax assessment process and difficulties in getting information from the company, noting the review was going over the budget allocated to SLR.
Council voted to provide the additional funds after deciding it was a high priority to get as much objective evaluation of the complex and voluminous information in the application as possible.
Now, almost 14 months after the initial presentation, the SLR report is nearing completion and is ready to be publicly presented. However, after all this considerable effort and significant investment by the city, I am concerned the public will not be adequately able to participate in the SLR presentation.
Current thinking at City Hall is that a small presentation in council chambers with video feed to local cable will be adequate to meet the community’s need for information and involvement.
However, given the public’s longstanding interest in the proposed Ajax project and the considerable interest in the initial report by SLR, I believe it is imperative a venue that can accommodate all those who are interested in attending be made available.
In addition, I feel if the public has questions they should also be given a venue that would allow the SLR consultants to explain their findings.
The residents of this city are those with the most at stake concerning Ajax, their tax dollars have paid for this review, and they need to be fully involved in understanding the findings brought forward by SLR Consulting.