July 22, 2015 - 3:25 PM
KAMLOOPS - At the beginning of June members of a group lobbying against the proposed Ajax Mine said roughly 150 letters had been sent to the government in opposition of the mine. This week we learned only 16 actually made it to the Ministry of Mines.
According to a Freedom of Information release, 16 letters were sent to Minister of Mines Bill Bennett in opposition of the mine and one in support between May 1 and June 9, 2015.
The signatures are all removed to protect personal privacy so it is unclear how many signatures are on each of the letters.
The letter in support, which InfoNews.ca obtained a copy of in May, includes signatures from more than 40 individuals, including high profile people such as Olympian Dylan Armstrong and former city chief administrative officer Randy Diehl.
About two weeks later, the groups opposing the mine said roughly 150 local businesses had submitted letters to the ministry voicing their concerns. It was part of a month-long letter writing campaign aimed at having a higher impact by submitting more than just a single letter. The group said they would not disclose the identity of anyone who submitted a letter under the campaign for privacy reasons.
John Schleiermacher, a spokesperson for the Kamloops Area Preservation Association, one of the key drivers behind the anti-Ajax movement, says the information request was too narrow and that he believes many letters were sent to different ministries.
“We had 150 agree to send letters. We talked to 150 that said they were going to, they didn’t say when, maybe they’ll do it tomorrow,” Schleiermacher says, adding he has heard from people who sent letters to Health Canada and the Ministry of Environment as well. “I think some people looked at it and said ‘why bother sending it to Bill Bennett? Why send it to someone who already has made up his mind about it?’”
He believes the freedom of information release is not worth paying attention to because of the narrow scope of only including correspondence with Bennett.
“This freedom of information thing, somebody is playing a little game here. This FOI should be totally ignored.”
The proposed open-pit copper-gold mine has split Kamloops in recent years. If approved the mine will be located on the southwest outskirts of the city. The company plans on submitting the environmental application for the project this summer.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015