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Kamloops News

Ajax survey shows many strong opinions

The public has sounded off on how it feels about the proposed Ajax mine in a recent survey.

KAMLOOPS – A recent survey shows if the people of Kamloops had their way, there'd be a referendum to decide the fate of the Ajax mine — and the majority don't want it, concerned an operation so close to town will harm the city's image.

The week-long online survey garnered more than 2,800 responses and though some were multiple entries and were discarded between 2,736 and 2,761 responses were still used in the calculations of the 17 questions.

Before the results became public, society president Brad Harrison said the strongest opinions came from the question over whether a referendum should be held. More than 63 per cent said yes and only 27.9 per cent said no.

Less than eight per cent of those surveyed don't support mining in general, but the majority of the respondents still don't feel the Ajax mine will be good for tourism, property values or development in Kamloops. In fact about 57 per cent said flat out they do not support the development of the proposed mine.

KGHM Ajax spokesperson Robin Bartlett says the company appreciates the interest the Kamloops Voters Society took in putting out the survey and the need for more information.

“We appreciate the KVS has taken an interest on this very important issue in the community,” Bartlett says. “We're hoping to answer some of the concerns and will be transparent when (the information) comes along.”

Bartlett says there's no timeline yet on when the answers will be available because of the amount of work that is going into the project right now. KGHM hosted a series of public information sessions back in September to help address some of the concerns in the community. Though the company was only able to provide specifics on the types of tests and not the results some examples of what 'should' happen with the mine were given to help attendees understand the scope of the mine.

The latest survey results indicate there remains a lot of questions people want answers for, though a large percentage seem to have made up their mind in most categories.

Two thirds of people believe the mine would have a positive impact on local mining business and nearly half think it could have a positive impact on other industries such as forestry and manufacturing as well.

When it comes to tourism and branding as the Tournament Capital of Canada though, opinions were quite a bit stronger against the mine, with more than half strongly disagreeing that the mine would have a good impact. In both cases more than 20 per cent were unsure what the impact would be.

Noise, dust and light concerns were also strong. Nearly 60 per cent believe dust and airborne matter from the mine will have an adverse affect on their specific neighbourhood while nearly 45 per cent thinking the noise or light will affect their neighbourhood negatively.

Strong opinions over the development of housing in Aberdeen and Pineview came from the survey as well — more than 60 per cent don't believe the mine will be positive for development in areas closest to the proposed mine and another 53 per cent think property values will not be positively impacted in general.

A question on attracting international students saw responses split with only 34.4 per cent believing the mine will cause problems with attracting them and 27.9 per cent thinking the mine will have a positive impact on attracting students. The rest of the respondents were unsure.

A similar pattern emerged with the question about net employment impact. 31.1 per cent strongly agree the mine will positively impact overall employment numbers while 22.9 per cent strongly disagree. Another 12.2 per cent didn't know or couldn't agree or disagree with the question.

Perhaps the most evenly split question on the survey was over support for city council remaining neutral on the subject. A lot of strong opinions have been had about the mine, including from councillors Tina Lange and Donovan Cavers who have not been shy about stating their displeasure over the project, but when it comes to council as a whole it has been stated on numerous occasions they plan to remain neutral until more information is available. On the survey the question garnered a nearly even split over support for this tactic, though six per cent of people are unsure how they feel about council staying neutral.

More than half of the respondents were male and nearly a quarter live in Aberdeen (601) though notably another quarter from the North Kamloops areas (including Rayleigh.) Each of the areas throughout the city were well represented though, with more than 200 people from both Upper Sahali and Downtown and more than 100 people from eight other areas completing the survey.

More respondents were in the range of 50-59 years old, though residents as young as 14 took part in the survey. Less than six per cent of those surveyed said they were unsure if they could support the development of the mine.

The head of the local United Steelworkers union also spoke out against the proposed mine this week and Saturday a rally is planned in front of the KGHM office. Bartlett says the company will not be responding to Richard Boyce's comments and does not plan on having anybody from the team at the office on Saturday to address the rally.

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

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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