Kamloops councillor against proposed Ajax mine willing to support if conditions are met

KAMLOOPS - One of four councillors who has stated his opposition to the proposed Ajax Mine says there may be a way for the mine to be acceptable to him.

There are five conditions the mine would have to meet to earn support from Coun. Denis Walsh, according to a news release he issued today, July 5. While he has the basic conditions set, they will be open to public discussion and may be altered before taken to city council.

The conditions are: Formal acceptance by the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation, completion of the environmental review process with a commitment of zero harm to Kamloops residents, the creation of a new independant provincial agency to ensure and enforce compliance with regulations, the creation of a joint review panel to monitor the mine’s operations and financial compensation for the city including a bond for the mine’s reclamation.

Walsh would like to see the mine’s approval by the provincial and federal governments become contingent on the acceptance of these conditions. Before that though, he’s looking to residents for feedback.

“I’d like to have a thorough city discussion whether this is the right way to proceed,” he says.

The conditions have already been discussed with some residents who are opposed to the mine.

“Initially when I bring this up people say 'no way,'” Walsh says. “People want to say no way, but when I pursue it I ask what would it take to support it.”

As one of four councillors elected on a platform that included opposition to the proposed mine, Walsh says people might initially be upset with the idea he could support the mine, but says it comes down to what the conditions are. If the mine is approved, which is up to the federal and provincial governments and not the City of Kamloops, he thinks the conditions are necessary for the good of residents.

“If they get the permit without these conditions it does not bode well for Kamloops,” he says.

The idea for a new independent agency to oversee mining in B.C. follows the B.C. Auditor General’s report on mining released in May which stated the compliance and enforcement by the mining ministry were inadequate.

With the proposed copper and gold mine’s environmental application review currently temporary suspended, Walsh wants to see council take an official position on the mine before it restarts. The resolution and conditions would be be a part of that. The review is expected to restart in October.

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