Environment Minister turns down city council request for visit on Ajax | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Environment Minister turns down city council request for visit on Ajax

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KAMLOOPS - The interim mayor of Kamloops is not losing hope despite receiving word from the Environmrnt Ministry that there will not be a face-to-face meeting between the two levels of government to discuss the KGHM Ajax mine proposal.

Last week council approved a staff recommendation to ask for the meeting with Environment Minister George Heyman as well as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in what seemed like a final attempt to have the Kamloops' voice heard, but that request was turned down by the Energy Ministry.

Among the reasons cited for not coming to town is that it wouldn't be proper procedure in terms of the mine proposal process.

"While I have been to Kamloops before to talk to a number of people about their concerns with Ajax, as statutory decision maker under the Environmental Assessment Act, if I or Minister (Michelle) Mungall were to meet with groups in the middle of the environmental assessment process and public comment period, we would be interfering with the process that is underway," Heyman says in a statement to iNFOnews.ca.

Heyman has assured Kamloops city council and interim mayor Arjun Singh that if they make their concerns known during the public comment period which lasts until Oct. 10, the Kamloops voice will be heard by the people in charge of making the decision.

Singh says it's understandable the minister can't make another trip to Kamloops to hear from all the stakeholders this late in the game.

"The minister is trying to be as ethical and as fair as possible to everybody and I totally respect that," Singh says.

Singh says he has faith in the system and believe council will be able to have their views heard through the final stage of the public comment period.

"From what I understand the ministers will ultimately see a decision making package," he says. "They will be able to add things into that package from the City of Kamloops that will talk about the concerns that we have."

While council is still waiting to hear back from the Environmental Assessment Office regarding its report on the Ajax proposal that found no long term impacts will be made, Singh says he does still hope to have a face-to-face with some representatives.

"I think we have an opportunity here to talk to the final decision makers one way or the other," he says. "I think that's an important step for us to take though I'm not sure how much further the EAO can change the position they've taken."

For more on the Ajax mine proposal, go here.

To read the EAO report, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Mike McDonald or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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