October 27, 2015 - 11:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - Discussions around extending the city boundaries to include the New Afton mine will continue next month with the Minister of Community set to visit the area.
Minister of Community Peter Fassbender will be in Kamloops Nov. 9 to discuss plans to include the New Afton mine within city limits, which will include meeting with those potentially impacted by the proposed change, including First Nations and people in the mining industry, Mayor Peter Milobar says. Fassbender will also have an opportunity to see the lay of the land.
“He’s coming to get a real look on the ground instead of just on a map,” Milobar explains.
Milobar met recently with Fassbender at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. He says the minister offered to come to Kamloops to assess the situation himself.
What happens next in the New Afton process 'depends how the meetings go,' Milobar says. Previously, the province said Kamloops needed further consultation with First Nations groups specifically.
The Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn Indian Bands previously said they are opposed to any boundary expansion in the area because it would encompass traditional territories. In 2014 the bands said they were prepared to take legal action if New Afton was included within Kamloops city limits.
The city has also explored alternative options to annexation, including revenue sharing agreements.
The idea of boundary extension was first raised by Milobar in 2013. By including New Afton within the city limits, Kamloops could collect property taxes from the mine, which is already using city resources such as fire and hospital, and aspread the heavy industry tax roll across another company.
Heavy industry companies — Arclin, Domtar, Lafarge and Tolko — originally asked council for a tax break to keep their operations competitive. The group criticised Kamloops’ tax rate, saying it’s nearly double other parts of the province. Since those discussions Arclin has closed down.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015