An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE AJAX MINE PROJECT may seem like a bad dream from long ago but it could happen again, or something like it, here or elsewhere.
If it somehow reared its head again, it would do so under basically the same rules it did the first time. Municipalities still don’t have any authority — other than moral suasion — to either encourage or reject such a project.
Calls to modernize mining regulations have been going on for years. The Mineral Tenure Act is typically referred to as antiquated, a left-over from the gold rush days. As it stands, cities and regional districts can’t carry out effective planning in areas subject to mineral claims.
Mines the size of the one that was planned for the Ajax property shouldn’t even be considered close to populated areas anyway but, at the least, local governments should have a veto.
The City of Kamloops spent hundreds of thousands on studies and all it could do was offer an opinion.
During the Ajax process, nobody came out against mining. Nobody said they were against jobs. It was all about location, location, location.
A half dozen Kamloops organizations are among those who have asked for reform. Coun. Denis Walsh wants Kamloops City council to make a new push through the Union of B.C. Municipalities. His notice of motion to council asks the provincial government to develop “common sense restrictions on where mineral claims and mining leases are allowed” and to ensure local governments, First Nations, private landowners and the public have a “meaningful role in decisions about mineral tenure.”
It’s a mouthful, but it comes down to this. We dodged a bullet with Ajax. We might not be as lucky the next time.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.