KAMLOOPS - A short-handed Kamloops city council voiced a lack of faith in the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office following the joint federal-provincial report on the KGHM Ajax proposal that was released last week.
With councillor Pat Wallace away, councillors Tina Lange, Dennis Walsh, Dieter Dudy, and Donovan Cavers joined interim Mayor Arjun Singh at the council table to attack the report.
The lawmakers voted in favour of directing city staff to compile a list of comments and concerns about the project to be sent to the B.C. and federal Ministers of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, as well as the Ministers of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Premier John Horgan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Councillor Dennis Walsh was the lone "no" vote.
"[Ajax] will certainly have the risk of harming the people's health in the community," said Singh. "From what I see so far in that summary report, they haven't accurately represented our concerns and I think staff feel that way as well."
"To say I'm disappointed is too mild and quite frankly I'm horrified at what the Environmental Assessment Office put out," said Lange. "It's as if whatever we decided as a council which represents 90,000 people was just a comment that meant nothing. They didn't even talk about it."
Lange said it is upsetting that so little importance has been put on council's opinion as it came after taxpayer money was used to pay for a consultant to examine the proposal.
"Again, nothing mentioned. We were just ignored," she said.
Council's disapproval of the report is in response to the finding that the KGHM Ajax mine would not have any significant long term impacts to the environment surrounding the mine site.
Continuing the campaign to have their voices heard, council agreed to invite the B.C. environmental assessment office to a council meeting for a face to face conversation about the review of the mine proposal. The office has been in contact with city staff and has stated it's willing to come to Kamloops.
Council also approved a motion put forward by Walsh to publicly lend support to the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation and the groups that support the Nation's decision to publicly come out against the mine proposal.
"It's important that as a community we stick together on these issues," said Walsh. "It's been made very clear on council and with (the Nation) that this mine will have a very harming risk and adverse effect on the community.".
Finally, Walsh dropped a bombshell at the council table putting forward a motion to ask the three political party leaders in B.C. to suspend the environmental assessment process. The motion cites several reasons for the request including a lack of respect for First Nations rights, a failure to allow municipalities to have any control, and the environmental risks of a mine failure like what we saw at the Mount Polley mine.
Walsh's motion will be voted on at the next council meeting on Aug. 29.
To read the B.C. EAO report, go here.
For more on the Ajax mine proposal, go here.
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