October 05, 2016 - 4:30 PM
SOME COUNCILLORS VOICE FRUSTRATION WITH EXTENDED REVIEW, UNCERTAIN SCHEDULE
KAMLOOPS - Kamloops city council is asking mining proponent KGHM Ajax for $200,000 to cover the extra cost of the city's independent review of the company's proposed mine.
The money is to pay SLR Consulting, the independent firm reviewing the Ajax Mine environmental application on the city's behalf. Councillors agreed yesterday, Oct. 4, to budget $200,000 of the city’s money to pay for the consulting firm’s work on the application. They also agreed to ask KGHM Ajax to cover that $200,000.
The original $300,000 budgeted by the city and paid for by KGHM Ajax is almost all used. As the application review isn’t done, city administration requested the city council approve the additional $200,000 to continue the review. The amount is an estimate by city adminstration of what is likely required to cover the rest of the review process, but it may be more or less.
Councillors approved it, but most also voiced frustration with the mining company, the extended application process and the uncertainty of when the process will finally end.
"I really don't want to see Kamloops taxpayers having to foot the bill for this project, in my opinion, that's been foisted on us by a Polish mining giant," Coun. Donovan Cavers said.
When the application was submitted in January, a 180-day review period started, with expectations a decision would be reached this past summer. That clock was stopped at 107 days when KGHM Ajax requested a temporary suspension. While the suspension was granted and the application is officially still at day 107, work continued on the review, with SLR and city employees working as part of the technical working group reviewing the application and asking questions. No deadline was set for the suspension and while there were expectations it would end in early fall it is still ongoing.
"For a community to wait as long as we have for this, and to hear from staff that it might go much longer is really a big, big concern I have," Coun. Arjun Singh said.
Public works director Jen Fretz estimates on top of the $300,000 spent on SLR consultants, the city has spent at least a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of city staff time reviewing the project.
With the assessment process ongoing, councillors agreed it wouldn't be a good idea to stop the city's review before it was finished.
KGHM Ajax spokesperson Yves Lecasse says the company is aware of the request.
"We will closely review their request and get back to city council once we have reached a decision," he says in an email.
For more about the proposed open pit copper and gold mine on the city's southwest border, click here.
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