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Emotions run high during Ajax Mine meeting, but outbursts kept at bay

Ajax supporters wore bright green badges to the city's town hall meeting yesterday, September 29, at the Coast Hotel.
September 29, 2015 - 1:05 PM

KAMLOOPS - The packed conference room at the Coast Hotel played host to one of the more civil meetings held in regards to the proposed Ajax Mine.

About 500 people packed the City of Kamloops town hall meeting Monday, Sept. 28, and while there were no protestrs and no placards this time around a large group of mine supporters came wearing bright green 'Support Ajax' badges.

The meeting was an opportunity for residents to hear the list of 211 questions the city has already set out for the review process and to add their own questions to the list.

While emotion ran high during the meeting, with more than one speaker tearing up during their turn at the podium, Mayor Peter Milobar began the meeting by letting the crowd know any jeering, cheering, catcalling or even clapping would not be allowed.

“We are not going down that road,” he said, quickly put a stop to it when applause did break out.

A handful of residents asked whether KGHM International would compensate the city in case of disaster, with several bringing up the example of Mount Polley. Several residents specifically asked for a performance bond or contingency fund to be in place.

“Is there a ball park figure for the worst that can happen?” one speaker wanted to know.

Many voiced environmental concerns, ranging from air quality to damage to salmon spawning grounds, while Iron Mark trailer park owner Randy Carrell wondered how blasting at the mine would affect the park’s infrastructure.

“We’re the closest civilization to that mine,” she said, asking city council for a meeting to discuss her concerns on behalf of her tenants.

Many residents in support of the mine voiced their belief Ajax would bring jobs, new families and major economic benefits to Kamloops. One speaker become very emotional explaining how young people have been devastated due to job losses in the oil fields and made a passionate plea to bring good paying jobs to Kamloops.  

"So far today I’m not worried about a lot of things here,” resident Lester Evans said, asking instead, “What are those positive aspects?”

Many questioned the scrutiny mining company KGHM was under, with some wondering if other heavy industry such as Domtar had to undergo the same process.

Jim Thompson objected to question 23 in the city’s list of questions for consultants to review, saying it was 'discriminatory and prejudicial' to assume mine workers are synonymous with prostitution, alcohol/drug consumption crime and gambling.

Anyone who was unable to speak at the town hall meeting can still submit a letter up to 500 words to the city’s website until Oct. 2.

The consultants will use the questions received from the city, from the town hall meeting and from online submissions, during their review of the environmental application.

Provincial and federal governments will ultimately decide the fate of the Ajax Mine but the city has hired its own consultant to review area concerns and assess the accuracy of information contained the mine’s application. A series of meetings and workshops will follow this open house and council will eventually provide an official opinion on the project.

KGHM recently submitted its Ajax Mine application to the Environmental Assessment Office but the document will likely not be made public until the assessment office has approved the completeness of the paperwork.

The Ajax Mine is a proposed copper and gold open-pit mine planned for southwest of Kamloops.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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