Kamloops News

Ajax opponents demand more studies, input

Kamloops Community Advisory Group member Gina Morris looks towards the proposed Ajax mine site during a news conference near Pacific Way School Monday.

As the lunch hour bell rang at Pacific Way School members of the Kamloops Community Advisory Group stood just a few metres away and spoke about the proposed Ajax mine and the need for an independent health assessment and a proper review panel for public input.

“We have the right to be heard and ask questions of the proponent in a public hearing format,” Gina Morris, a member of CAG, the Aberdeen Community Group and Kamloops Moms for Clean Air, told the crowd.

The advisory group, comprised of 14 individual community groups, has been participating in the environmental assessment process and after 15 months most members have concluded the process is not fair, rigorous, transparent, comprehensive, nor efficient.

Though they are unable to discuss the findings or details from the process due to a confidentiality agreement, Dr. Twila Burgmann says, there is concern many of the 1,465 items on the public concerns tracking table will not be addressed.

Content of the environmental impact statement and the draft application information requirements are tracked using tables put in place to summarize the degree to which issues are considered resolved or addressed, and the group does not feel many of the issues are either being resolved or addressed. There are also concerns the tracking table was excluded from documentation sent for review to CAG members in February.

With the group concerned about health impacts, they are demanding an independent health assessment be completed. In a letter to Environment Minister Peter Kent the group says a review panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is required because not giving people the opportunity to provide testimony and question the mine proponent through a public hearing format takes away their basic fundamental rights.

The group believes incomplete documentation has been provided to the government and information on the potential adverse impacts of the proposed KGHM Ajax mine were not addressed.

Members of the group also believe the mine would have a negative impact on property values, the lands, lakes and roads around Lac Le Jeune Road would be compromised and the Trans Mountain Pipeline would be skirting the rim of the open pit mine.

City of Kamloops council passed a motion in October 2011 supporting a panel review, but continue to refuse either support or oppose the project until the assessment period is complete and all the information is available.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call (250) 819-3723.

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