KAMLOOPS - It was an eventful year for Kamloops residents, as we dealt with an abundance of major roadwork, a referendum, a recycling strike, the construction of a new casino and of course the proposed Ajax Mine taking a step forward in its application.
PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE
In April we were introduced to a plan to turn the former Kamloops Daily News building into a performing arts centre and parkade. The $90-million proposal gained momentum as a consultant was brought in to prepare a plan and groups formed to support the idea.
A November referendum was planned to see if residents were interested in borrowing $49 million to complete the project but in the end 53.74 per cent of voters said no.
City council has since discussed the option of demolishing the building.
In June the Steelworkers Union announced it was ready to strike if a deal could not be reached between employees and Emterra Environmental. The company, which holds the recycling contract for the city, was unable to reach a deal with workers and on June 22 the strike began.
Because of complications with finding a new sorter and the potential for the union to picket at a new location the city ceased curbside pickup and depot collection of recycled goods. Nearly eight weeks later a deal was reached and the city resumed pickup and collection.
Several large projects had drivers yelling and screaming this year and in an effort to ease the frustration cameras were installed near the Overlanders Bridge, on Columbia Street and along Highway 5 near Halston Avenue and at Mount Paul Way.
Between the $10-million Overlanders Bridge resurfacing project and the $5-million Columbia Street project, at least parts of the Kamloops arterial roadways were continually under repair from May through the end of October.
Work was also done on Aberdeen Drive, Dallas Drive and 12th Street, to name just a few other areas that saw roadwork this year.
Construction on Overlanders Bridge.
Image Credit: City of Kamloops/flickr
Gateway Casinos announced last year it was purchasing the former Rona building on Versatile Drive with the intention of building a new casino there and early this year construction began. Months of roadwork, including the addition of traffic lights and a roundabout, and a complete gut and rebuild, the casino officially opened doors in August.
The company is now looking at adding additional parking and an outdoor amphitheatre.
PROPOSED AJAX MINE
Always a contentious issue in Kamloops, the proposed Ajax Mine continued to make headlines in 2015.
As the company behind the mine got closer to submitting its environmental application the groups for and against the mine became more vocal. The coalition against the mine launched an online fundraiser so it could hire its own experts to study the application while local business people signed a petition in support of the mine.
Meanwhile local First Nations groups declared aboriginal title on the Jacko Lake area, where the mine is set to operate if approved, and the city agreed to move forward with hiring its own consultants and holding an open house to get insight from the public on what should be studied.
In September KGHM officially submitted its application and after an extension to allow more time to work with First Nations groups the application requirements were accepted as complete on Nov. 20. The company plans to submit the full application in January and shortly afterwards the review and public input period will begin.
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