The federal and provincial cabinet ministers who will make the final decision on Ajax will receive a “strong” invitation to come to Kamloops to meet with City council and other interested groups, and to see where the mine would be built.
Council decided today to extend the invite after leaving no doubt about what it thinks of a joint federal-provincial report from environmental review agencies on the project. It also formally endorsed the Stk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation’s (SSN) opposition to the mine.
Words like “frankly horrified” (Coun. Tina Lange) and “just a charade” (Coun. Denis Walsh) pretty much summed up what council thinks of the Summary Assessment report and an expanded version from the two levels of government that conclude the proposed mine “is not likely to cause significant adverse effects” to the environment.
Acting Mayor Arjun Singh said council should pursue “the highest level of lobbying” to ensure council’s opposition and concerns are taken into consideration when the decision is made this fall.
Lange said the report treated council’s concerns as if they were “nothing…. We were just ignored.”
“I just have no faith in the EAO (B.C. Environmental Assessment Office) after that summary report,” said Walsh. Pointing out that the report makes note of council’s opposition while in the same paragraph stating council reached an agreement with KGHM on a community benefits package, he said, “I find that insulting… it’s just improper.”
Coun. Donovan Cavers commented, “There’s a lot of things that have reduced by confidence in the BCEAO.”
In a flurry of motions, council:
- voted to invite the federal and B.C. environment ministers and the B.C. mines minister to Kamloops, and that the invitations be extended both verbally and in writing.
- voted to suggest the ministers make themselves available for appointments with other concerned stakeholder groups when they come.
- voted to accept staff recommendations that a list of comments and concerns be drafted and communicated, and letters be sent restating council’s opposition.
- voted to invite the BCEAO to make a presentation to council explaining the report.
- voted to formally endorse the SSN’s opposition to the mine.
Staff said a follow-up letter from the BCEAO received Monday night said the cabinet ministers are obligated to consider the full Federal Comprehensive Study/ Provincial Assessment Report, not just the summary, in making their decision.
The actual report may or may not be changed, but CAO Dave Trawin said, “I’d still like to go in there swinging and fighting.”
The public comment period — in which the public can make submissions on the reports — runs until Oct. 10.