June 26, 2016 - 2:54 PM
'EVERY FUTURE STORY WOULD HAVE BECOME SHADED IN THAT OPINION'
While covering news in Kamloops over the last several years I’ve been asked many times where I stand on the proposed Ajax Mine.
Publicly I chose not to share my stance because frankly, as a journalist, my opinion doesn’t matter. My role as a journalist is to provide you with the facts and information you need to make a decision about things happening in our community. Whether it’s the proposed mine, a city hall matter or something simpler, like someone doing good, my job is not to tell you how I feel or how you should feel, it’s to provide you the information you need to make an informed decision on your own.
If I have an opinion I want to share, I do have the option of expressing my editorial freedom by writing a column — an opinion piece. But when it comes to the mine, an ongoing and dividing issue in the city, I tried to stay away from sharing my opinion about anything specific to the project because every future story I wrote would have become shaded in that opinion, even if the story only shared basic facts.
I know this because I’ve already seen it. I’ve received threats when the reader perceived some type of bias in my stories and columns about the Ajax Mine. To be honest, it’s usually those on the anti-Ajax side sending threats or throwing nasty insinuations my way. I have been accused of some awful things and had my integrity questioned simply because I was willing to share something that went against their beliefs.
Not surprisingly, those same people who told me I should not be writing any stories which show any type of support for or against the project never actually criticized me when the subject matter appeared to lean more in the favour of their opinion.
That being said, I have made the decision to step away from news, so remaining unbiased in my reporting won’t be an issue going forward.
So for those of you have asked me in the past what I think of the proposed mine, whether you knew or not that I live among those closest to it, here is my answer:
Emotionally, I do not support the mine. It’s a little too close for comfort, especially without knowing exactly what the impacts will be on our community.
Logically though, there is not enough information for me to run for the hills.
Of course, not having enough information to make me completely petrified of the mine also means I don’t have enough information to logically support it either.
The project looks pretty good on paper, at least what details have actually been provided in what is essentially a marketing tool used to lure the government into saying yes. But I also realize the experts quoted in those papers are just that — experts, with their reputations on the line — so you’d hope they are not just trying to make the project look good.
Ultimately though, I just do not want to be a guinea pig. If KGHM cannot prove without a shadow of a doubt that nothing negative will happen to our community — whether it be dust or vibrations or water issues — I don’t want to be the person they test their theories on so future projects know what type of negative impacts can happen when a mine is close to a large population.
Had we known this project was being considered this close we may not have bought our home here. We were fairly new to town and our realtor told us about the proposed mine but said it was more than 10 kilometres away. That didn’t seem so scary. Had he told us the truth though — that the pit itself will be roughly three kilometres from our property — it may have had us reconsidering.
But he didn’t, so here we are. In a house we love, with an amazing view, near an unbelievable park and a school we are proud to send our daughter to. All in a community we are proud to call home. We have no plans to leave, even if the mine does get approval.
And I know we’re not alone, house sales and new house builds have been moving at a fast pace around here. Many people are moving into the area, even with the threat of a large open-pit mine on the other side of the hill.
So there you have it. I’m not scared silly of the mine, but at this point I don’t trust the project will do no harm so I just simply can’t support it either.
Could my opinions all change once we get the full picture and all the information is made available? Sure. If we ever get to that point.
— Jennifer Stahn is the Kamloops editor for iNFOnews.ca
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