City council will receive a petition during a regular meeting this afternoon, Tuesday, April 16, with more than 2,400 signatures of people opposing the proposed KGHM Ajax mine.
Despite having publicly declared they have little to no actual say in the mine, residents continue to push city council to take an official stance on the mine, something they say they will not do until all the information is available.
“We have partial say, we get to comment based on public feedback and what we're hearing,” Milobar told a full council chambers during a March regular meeting while trying to explain why he feels people misunderstand the role the city plays in the process.
This will be the third time in the past five weeks council has had either an official presentation or something submitted for information, several other occasions have seen residents step up during the public enquiry portion of the meeting to urge council to take a stand or air concerns about the proposed mine. Sometimes it is to urge council to watch a video about environmental or health issues they feel needs to be watched, that will help council decide against Ajax.
On March 12 Cherise Udell of Utah Mom's for Clean Air made a presentation to council about the affects the Rio Tinto mine has had on her Salt Lake City community and two weeks later Yves Lacasse made his first appearance before council as the manager of external affairs and presented a preliminary glimpse of a 3-D Google Earth model the company will be using to showcase the details of the mine. Opponents of the proposed mine filled council chambers both days, first cheering for Udell and then murmuring and tittering during the question and answer period between Lacasse and council.
This week a petition created by Steve Knudson on change.org will come before council as information. The month-long petition asking council to oppose the development of the mine garnered 2,418 signatures by the time it closed on April 10.
In his submission Knudson notes the petition features nearly 2,500 people who oppose the mine primarily on health grounds and believes even though it was an online petition it is a “strong indicator of the wishes of a significant portion of Kamloops residents.”
The majority of the commenters are residents of the Kamloops area, while a few dozen were previously residents or have vacationed in the area. Many commenters talk about the health and environmental issues the mine will cause or the proximity to the city.
While several commenters littered their comment with swears and vulgar language to show their disgust with the Ajax mine, one commenter from Nanaimo simply stated, “JUST DON'T ****** DO IT!”
Another change.org petition asking council to consider supporting the mine had gathered nearly 1,600 signatures so far and will be closing today, April 16. Caroline King started the petition as a way to offer up support for the proposed mine, which she believes can provide local economic benefits while still protecting the environment. Most comments focus around job creation and local economic benefit, especially following the recent closure of the A-line at Domtar which resulted in 125 job losses.
Both petitions are to be forwarded to Kamloops council, MLAs Terry Lake and Kevin Krueger, Premier Christy Clark, MP Cathy McLeod and environment minister Peter Kent.
Coun. Donovan Cavers and Coun. Tina Lange have both publicly said they oppose the mine while the others have said they are waiting to have all the information before they take a stand – though frustration with the process and lack of information has been expressed to KGHM officials including Lacasse. Coun. Nancy Bepple owns shares in the company and leaves chambers anytime a discussion around Ajax comes up.
A recent online survey conducted by Roundabout Communications showed nearly two-thirds of Kamloops residents want city council to use every available resource to stop the mine and about the same amount felt the health risks of the mine would outweight the economic impact.
The environmental assessment for the KGHM Ajax site - located on the southwest edge of the city and less than two-kilometres from Pacific Way School - is expected to be complete in September and city council plans on hosting a public information session half-way through the six-month review period – likely in January.
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