By remaining officially neutral on the question of an open pit mine on its boundaries, the City of Kamloops fails to have a voice in a matter critical to the future of its citizens, says Coun. Denis Walsh.
Back in town Thursday after a mountaineering trip in the Selkirks, Walsh said he is appealing directly to Premier Christy Clark on legal grounds to have the Ajax Mine permitting process suspended.
In a letter sent to the premier last week, he argued that two key flaws in the proposal and the process, stating that they constitute a violation of Charter rights that guarantee fair process as well as the right to life, liberty and security.
“I want people to pay attention,” he said. “It’s common sense that you don’t put a tailings pond, after the failure of Mount Polley, above a city of 90,000.”
Walsh said he expects at least an acknowledgement of receipt from Clark if not a written response, “some explanation as to why they’re not following the advice of their expert panel recommendations.”
The independent panel examining the 2014 Mount Polley disaster clearly recommended dry tailings storage, not the tailings approach proposed by KGHM, he said.
“That’s better technology, that’s not the best,” he said of KGHM’s proposal to thicken the tailings and buttress the facility.
“When you’re dealing with 90,000 residents with a mine above them, you need to go all the way, and that’s dry stack tailings.” The company is proposing a less costly system, an unacceptable compromise, he added
“The government is abrogating its obligation to the people of Kamloops based on economics.”
His letter drew some resentment from council colleagues in the neutral camp, who have maintained that they want to await results of the environmental assessment later this year before taking a stand for or against the mine. Four other councillors, including Walsh, have consistently opposed the mine.
“If council’s not going to take a position on Ajax, I have the right to speak up,” he said. “I represent a constituency in Kamloops that does not want this mine. How are we going to affect the decision? We need to stay ahead of the game. Right now, we’re just muted. Neutered, I would call it. And it’s basically self inflicted.”
The provincial government’s insistence that the City pursue a community benefits agreement with proponent KGHM complicates the situation. Initially, the City wanted the province to extend municipal boundaries, which would bring it a share of tax revenues from the mine.
Citing the opposition of some City councillors, the company backed out of community benefit negotiations this spring before agreeing to return to the table.
Those talks, involving company officials, Mayor Peter Milobar and Coun. Dieter Dudy — who stands against the mine — are expected to resume later this month.
Walsh also argues that the provincial government has failed to uphold its own mining regulations, a shortcoming duly noted by two successive auditors general.
“You can change the rules all you want, if you’re not going to enforce them, we’re no better off,” he said, paraphrasing Carol Bellringer in her recent report.
September 16, 2016 10:36pm
Why would we risk putting one of these catastrophic projects so near our amazing city?
Don Barz says:
August 21, 2016 11:10am
In January of this year, KGHM made the following statement in its Feasibility Study:
188.8.131.52 Land and Resource Use
"The presence of the project may limit the ability of the City of Kamloops and the TNRD to meet the objectives of their various land use planning initiatives. However, mitigation measures in the
form of design changes to the project location, use of formal processes to amend land designations, and ongoing engagement between KAM and the City of Kamloops and the TNRD to discuss potential areas of interaction between the project and their planning, are expected to result in land and resource use effects being not significant (moderate)."
How might the project limit the city's ability to achieve its land use plans? What design changes and amendments to land designations does KGHM contemplate? What amendments to land designations would the City of Kamloops and the TNRD contemplate? Is the City going to amend the OCP to exclude the 4,000 residential unit expansion planned between Aberdeen and the proposed mine? This change would have major design and cost implications for the city and likely major financial losses to the developers who have in good faith relied on the City's land use plans to make major investments. Where does the City of Kamloops stand on this issue? And what does KGHM mean by the mine's effects on land and resource use as being 'not significant'?
'Head in the sand'...'neutered neutrality'...'asleep at the wheel'...whatever, one wonders whether our mayor is really on top of the issues facing the city from the proposed mine.
August 19, 2016 07:07pm
To the others who cant seem to make up their minds,or are just afraid to speak up to the bullys(you know who they are). Besides all the hard facts you have already been given,there is this reason not to trust them: Kghm is being fined in its Chilean mine for not implementing measures to control emissions, altering the natural habitat for native wildlife, and OPERATING A TAILINGS POND IN AN UNAUTHORIZED MANNER! Why are you still even pondering the idea,is this the kind of legacy you want to leave for your children and your children's,children?! Shouldnt this alone be reason enough to say no?
Well here is another then:
Its way to big and way to close,to 90000 men,women,and children. If the safety and health of the people of Kamloops and an already endangered river are not good enough reasons for you to say no... then please tell us what more do you need? I will not stick around kamloops to be a guinea pig,because that's exactly what we all will be.
Thank again Dennis and to the others who have already made up your minds that are against this insane idea. To the rest of you, It's a no Brainer really!
Sean Lane says:
August 19, 2016 11:09am
August 19, 2016 09:22am
August 19, 2016 11:17am
August 19, 2016 09:21am
Grouchy 1 says:
August 19, 2016 08:43am
Alright then Denis, if you feel that strongly about this, then put your money where your mouth is, and mount a court challenge on constitutional grounds. Just because you write this in a letter doesn't make it so. As for council taking a neutral stance on the mine, that just shows that they understand that nothing they have to say about the mine will mean squat in the end. It would have been nice though if council had at least set out a yay or nay so we knew where they stood.