STAHN: What the Ajax Mine public comment period really tells us
(JENNIFER STAHN / iNFOnews.ca)
April 16, 2016 - 10:00 AM
With more than 400 comments submitted in the final 24 hours of the 75-day public comment period for the proposed Ajax Mine, it can be a bit daunting to wade through.
It can also be easy to see just what you want to — in favour of, or against the mine.
Some people against the mine would like you to believe the only people who were in favour of the mine don’t live in Kamloops, or were input by the proponent, or are only in favour of the mine because of the promised jobs. Some supporting the mine would like you to believe everyone against it is blowing hot air and has no idea what they are talking about because the application came back saying there would be no major impacts.
Somewhere in the middle is the truth.
The truth is a lot of thought went into some of the comments, on both sides, and a lot of people took the time to at least make their voice heard, whether through a form letter, a 1,500-word essay or a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ comment left on the site.
A look at the numbers submitted through the public comment period show some interesting sides to the story which has become a dividing point among Kamloops residents. It also shows that many of the assertions made by either side are not entirely correct.
More than 2,000 people took the time to voice their support for the mine or raise concerns about it.
Nearly 1,000 different people signed their name in support of the mine during the comment period.
More than 400 people signed their name in opposition of the mine during the comment period.
Of those supporting the mine, roughly nine per cent were unwilling to share their name with the Environmental Assessment Office or the public.
Of those against the mine, about 58 per cent were unwilling to share their name.
Of those supporting the mine, roughly 700 are from the Kamloops region, including those who said where they are from but didn't include their name.
Of those against the mine, roughly 525 are from the Kamloops region, including those who said where they are from but didn't include their name.
Dozens of commenters included documents, forms and reports to back up their concerns while many more listed concerns in a well thought out manner.
More than 100 people did not specifically say they were for or against the mine, and simply voiced items they felt should be looked into further before a decision is made.
It should be noted you could sign your name and location with whatever you felt like, or leave it blank, making it difficult to actually track real numbers and concerns, but the assessment office will now sift through all the comments and share actual concerns and questions with the proponent so it can respond.
The public comment period is not officially considered a voting period for social license, but if it was, the support of the mine would likely come out on top. Because even those who just submitted form letters still took the time to share their opinion. They took the time. Something thousands of people who claim they are against the mine did not bother to do. So if and when the government tries to decide whether the community supports the proposed project, don’t be surprised if the voices of those who want the project to go through come out on top.
Read more on the proposed open-pit copper and gold mine, which is in the review stage of the environmental assessment process, here.
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