EDITORIAL – The mine that divided a community is dead; let healing begin

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THURSDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT that the Ajax project is dead might be the best news for the Kamloops region since the coming of the railroad.

But what to do now? After six long years of splitting the community in two, Ajax — which once seemed like a sure thing — is finished.

It’s like a huge weight being lifted off collective shoulders, yet there’s no question that a lot of people wanted to see it go ahead. The torn fabric of the community has to be mended.

We can begin with the way in which we talk about it. How about if those of us who fought against the mine refrain from gloating too much? Take a few days to smile and be happy, but be ready to get on with life.

And don’t spend too much time trying to figure out who deserves the most credit. Was it he Kamloops Area Preservation Association? Was it the Code Blue alliance? The Physicians for a Healthy Environment? The Aberdeen Neighbourhood Association? Kamloops City council? The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN)?

It was all of those voices, and many more, so let’s just enjoy the moment.

There was a strong conviction in some quarters that the SSN’s unequivocal opposition would win the day for opponents, because indigenous voices have a lot of influence in the politics of the province and the nation right now.

But the SSN wouldn’t have prevailed by itself, and neither would any other single group. The joint statement by B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman and Mines Minister Michelle Mungall was clear that it was the substance, not the politics, of the opposition that directed their decision.

And to those who believed in the mine, consider cooling it on indignant condemnation and finger pointing. Don’t waste energy looking for who to blame. The sky has not fallen.

Somehow, the community needs to find a structure and strategy for reconciliation. Components of that reconciliation might include establishing a tangible on-site acknowledgement of the importance of Jacko Lake (Pipsell) to First Nations culture, action on reformation of the Mines Act, a provincially supported declaration of a no-mining zone around Kamloops, a legislated mechanism for doing the same for other major population centres, and a new plan for job creation.

It’s a time for healing, not for second guessing.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (7708 Articles) 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 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.

10 Comments on EDITORIAL – The mine that divided a community is dead; let healing begin

  1. Lawrence Beaton // December 17, 2017 at 9:35 AM // Reply

    Healing will not take place, especially when media, what there is of it tends to display a certain bias.

  2. They now own a lot of real estate and have mineral claims in place. I am glad the mine did not get approved. At the same time, there is a reluctance to celebrate because of the “unknown” yet to happen.
    Thankfully, the environmental impacts of a huge open pit mine will not happen.

  3. Pipsell? This is insane! It was an irrigation pond, period! So the group that was hired by the city to prove it was not good did the opposite, and yet a government that was not even voted in makes a decision in favour of about 20% of the population. What now, oh well pot will soon be legal maybe we can all grow a little and go to the social assistance office. But let’s not say anything in case it hurts some feelings.

    • Seriously Marg ???? Just how do you think the current government got to where they are if they were not voted in ? Was there a coup that was not reported in the news ? Good grief, get over the fact that the Lieberals lost already.

  4. ajaxtoobigtooclose // December 14, 2017 at 11:27 PM // Reply

    Yes Mel, you are right of course, and yet there are one or two peronalities who might be well advised to fade away for a while please, such as YL and CK – your ime has past, goodbye.

  5. The substance, not the politics….and I have a bridge to sell you

  6. Cindy Ross Friedman // December 14, 2017 at 8:41 PM // Reply

    So happy about this decision…so happy… This was the right call. The Ajax story is also not necessarily over, and we need to create some good high paying jobs here. I will gladly join forces with any pro-Ajax folks to work together towards doing just that. I never saw the division as personal. We can move past that split toward a strong Kamloops with a vibrant economy and arts scene.

  7. Thats better Mel,but if you think it is over ,think again. KGHM will almost certainly produce a second iteration of the 18,000 page app.They will lose again but it might take another 5 years.If we win again the KGHM will sell the land to the red scorpions or the neo Trumpsters.
    They have ruined so many lives with the way they treated the land holders and fist nations that it will take may years for the bitterness to die down.

  8. What should happen next is the City busy a vast swath of that land or/and Sugarloaf Ranch and turns it into a park. Then we work on making sure well-defined guidelines are developed, included in a Kamplan-type document set in stone and the mineral tenure act gets modernized.
    But let’s drink now and rejoice!

  9. Would you have been so magnanimous had it been approved?

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