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What Ajax Mine review extensions means for Kamloops city council

March 31, 2017 - 4:50 PM

KAMLOOPS - The restart of the Ajax Mine environmental review offers the city more time to decide whether or not to support it and opponents preparing to rally against it.

Mayor Peter Milobar says the plan set out in January to meet a quick provincial deadline for Ajax Mine feedback will be revamped now that the provincial environmental assessment office added 110 days to the review timeline after restarting it yesterday, March 30.

“Staff are going through what the extension means,” he says. “Hopefully this is the final timeline and there's no further stoppage.”

Council had adopted a plan proposed by Coun. Denis Walsh to quickly review a report from the city’s consultants on the proposed mine to meet a deadline set by the assessment office for the city’s input. With 110 new days, the urgency has lessened and city staff plan to have a report to council for April 25 on the next steps to be taken by the city.

If the review had been restarted yesterday without the extension it would have meant Milobar, who’s undecided on the issue, and vocal mine opponent Coun. Donovan Cavers would be absent from the city’s decision because of their participation in the upcoming provincial election, but the extension has rectified that.

“As many people as possible will be around the council table,” Milobar says.

Currently four of the nine person council have said they would vote against the mine. The other five have said they’re waiting for more information, in particular the report prepared by SLR Consulting, the company reviewing the mine on behalf of the city. There's no word if the undecided Coun. Marg Spina, who's on medical leave, would return for the decision.

However, whatever city council decides will only be taken as input by the provincial and federal ministries and the city cannot green light or stop the project.

A statement from the company behind the mine, KGHM Ajax, views the restart as a step in the right direction.

“We’re excited about this development,” project manager Chris Wild says in a statement. “This will allow the public a chance to see first hand the results of the work we have been doing for the last several months.”

The temporary suspension, which started May 4, 2016, lasted nearly 11 months. During that time the mining company provided additional information to their initial application in response to requests from the the technical working group reviewing the application on behalf of various governments and First Nations.

Recently the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation decided to reject the mine proposal, which is on land currently part of a title claim dispute. Tomorrow, April 1, a group supporting the First Nations group’s decision is holding a rally at Thompson Rivers University. According to a press release, regional and national allies will join the First Nation to announce their support.

Click here for more on the proposed Ajax Mine project on the city's southwest border.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 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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