An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I TRUST the glib-tongued editorialists and commenters who preach the supposed folly of spending a half million dollars on an independent review of the Ajax mine will reconsider after Monday night’s public meeting on the resulting report.
Several hundred people were at the meeting, patiently waiting for two hours while the report’s findings were highlighted. When it finally came to questions from the crowd — which took another two hours plus a bit — both supporters and opponents of the mine praised SLR Consulting’s balanced findings.
Let’s not forget that KGHM Ajax paid the first $300,000 towards the cost of the review, with City taxpayers on the hook for another $200,000 when KGHM refused to pay the rest. For $200,000, those taxpayers got their money’s worth.
The focus of most of the questions was on the potential impact to human health, particularly with respect to dust, with concerns about property values a close second. Paul Draycott of SLR went over the report category by category, ranging from vibration to water quality to socio-economic issues.
On the dust question, and KGHM’s contention it can achieve 90 per cent mitigation, Draycott said, “It’s not typical for mine sites to commit to 90 per cent. We’re not saying it can’t be done.”
The verbal report, and the questions from residents, helped flesh out the written report published last week on the City’s website. Often, Draycott was able to clarify the meaning of the findings outlined in the written version, sometimes correcting misunderstandings on the part of the questioners.
Those who complain about the review being done at all insist it was a waste of taxpayers’ money, but those same complainers are likely among those who say opinions about the project need to be based on fact and science, not emotion.
The SLR review was all about fact and science. It didn’t make assumptions about anything; it based conclusions on the information put in front of it.
Now there’s no reason for anyone, including the holdouts, whether residents or members of council, not to know where they stand. The review was costly, yes, but it was well worth the investment.