If Ajax comes, some Kamloops physicians may go | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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If Ajax comes, some Kamloops physicians may go

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KAMLOOPS - If the proposed KGHM Ajax mine is approved Kamloops could go from having a shortage of family doctors to a shortage of specialists as well.

As part of the final public submissions to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, Kamloops neurologist Dr. Jennifer Takahashi theorizes what could happen within the medical community if Ajax is approved.

"We will likely move permanently away from Kamloops to finish raising our children if the Ajax Mine Project proceeds ahead to construction phase, based on our own informed decision making," she says in her comments to the Environmental Assessment Office.

The statement was part of a 35-page essay submitted as part of the final public comment period for the mine that came to an end last week.

Not only would Kamloops be losing one of its top neurologists in the city if Takahashi and her family were to leave, but the community would also lose one of the top emergency room doctors as she is married to the former head of the Royal Inland Hospital emergency department Dr. Anders Ganstal.

In her public comment Takahashi says her own children have been without a family doctor because the one they had chose not to renew the lease on their office in case Ajax is approved. That doctor has also said they would leave town if Ajax is approved. Takahashi says her family doctor is also married to a doctor so it would be another double-loss for Kamloops if that family were to leave.

Takahashi is on sabbatical in Sweden and was not available for an interview about her submission but has responded to iNFOnews.ca through e-mail. She says warning that she and possibly other doctors will leave town is not meant to be a threat, but hopes it will encourage people to do more research as to what Ajax will mean for the health of the city.

"For me, the decision is whether to move our family away permanently from our Kamloops home," she says in her e-mail. "For the Ministers, the decision is whether or not they will approve the Ajax Project moving forward. For other readers of my work, they might reflect on whether they support the Ajax Project being developed above our city, leading to more confidence in why they have made the decision that they have for themselves."

Takahashi goes on to say having read all the literature about the proposed mine she feels it is tantamount to a medical trial rather than a well thought out resource project.

"In my view, I think that proceeding ahead with the Ajax Project would be an experiment in constructing, operating, mitigating, monitoring, and compliance reviewing a massive open pit mine on the upwind and upstream doorstep of a large urban valley population and confluence of rivers," she says. "Medico-legally, participants in human health experiments must grant permission for their involvement."

Takahashi asks the decision-makers a pointed question regarding how confident they are in the safety of the proposed Ajax mine.

"Theoretically, if you approve the Ajax Mine, would you move to Kamloops, buy a home in Aberdeen, and have your children go to Pacific Way Elementary School? Ultimately, like most situations requiring a code of conduct, a foundational ethical principle is the Golden Rule," she says.

Takahashi notes that while she is a member of the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society her views on leaving town if the mine is approved are hers and her husbands alone, and she doesn't claim to speak for the hundreds of other doctors that will also be faced with the decision to stay or go if the project goes ahead.

For more on Dr. Takahashi's research and public comment, go here.

Find past stories on the proposed Ajax mine here.

— This story was updated at 8:39 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 to say Dr. Anders Ganstal is now the former ER department head.

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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