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Hundreds seek clarity on environmental assessment process

This week hundreds of people attended information sessions on the environmental assessment process and how it applies to the proposed Ajax Mine.
November 27, 2014 - 2:27 PM

MORE CURIOSITY THAN OPPOSITION FOR AJAX

KAMLOOPS - More than 860 people attended information sessions this week and even though the proposed Ajax Mine was the topic there were no protests, picket lines or large groups gathering at the Coast Hotel.

While many were seeking more information on the environmental assessment process many more were looking for details specific to the proposed Ajax Mine project. External Affairs Manager Yves Lacasse notes of the people who attended, few were openly against the project, most were either in support of or just looking for information before they form an opinion.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, received stacks of business cards, people have been handing me resumes,” he notes, adding the company was just there in a supportive role and the meetings were not intended as an Ajax open house. “It’s been very busy, very positive.”

Over the two days of meetings a total of six workshops on the environmental assessment process took place. Scott Bailey of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office says a range of items came up during the sessions including how the provincial and federal governments work together and what type of processes are in place for if something goes wrong after a project has been approved.

This type of workshop is unique to Kamloops and was set up specifically in response to the request for more information from the community and council. Bailey says the engagement has been really good and he hopes to have the same kind of sessions in the future.

In the ballroom, KGHM and the assessment office had experts on hand to talk about the process and how it applies to the Ajax Mine specifically. Many people had questions about the changes to the tailings storage as well as impacts on air quality, health studies and Jacko Lake.

Lisa Walls, the Regional Director for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, says she spoke to a lot of people about the process, timelines and the purpose of hosting a second public input session on the application requirements for the project. The second public input session is unique to this project, Walls notes.

They submitted changes… and we decided (the application requirements document) needed revision,” Walls says. “So the additional opportunity for public comment is a bit unique, but every project has something.”

A big part of her role at the session was to answer questions on the assessment process and let people know the project is subject to comprehensive studies based on an open, objective process based in science.

Walls says it is too early to tell how the engagement compares to the previous input session in 2012 but encourages anyone with feedback to submit a written comment before the Dec. 18 deadline.

“We look at all the comments that come in,” she says. “We take it all into consideration and ensure the comments… are reflected in the revised document.”

People wishing to comment can submit feedback through an online form, mail or fax.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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