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City ‘neutered’ by Ajax neutrality, Walsh says

By Mike Youds
August 18, 2016 11:09 A.M.

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.

jj says:
September 16, 2016 10:36pm

Apparently, BC taxpayers are still subsidizing the Mount Polley clean up efforts without any fines or charges against the mine operator. Isn't that dandy! And, BC has no enforceable polluter-pay law.
http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-mount-polley-cleanup-heavily-taxpayer-subsidized
Why would we risk putting one of these catastrophic projects so near our amazing city?

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Don Barz says:
August 21, 2016 11:10am

Mayor Milobar is either conducting secret negotiations with Ajax or he isn't conducting any negotiations at all. Either way, the first possibility raises the issue of lack of transparency, and the second possibility raises the issue of 'being asleep at the wheel.'

In January of this year, KGHM made the following statement in its Feasibility Study:

20.2.3.4 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.

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Alisonbellamy says:
August 19, 2016 07:07pm

Thank you Dennis,for speaking up and looking out for #1,the people of Kamloops!You give us hope ,sir. I applaud you for this:)
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!

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Sean Lane says:
August 19, 2016 11:09am

There are many things that are unsafe. Electricity, traffic and exposure can kill a person. How we handle them is critical. My inclination is to believe that the recent disaster with the political fallout and the ensuing public relations disaster for the company as well as the cost of clean up makes us all a lot safer. No CEO in his right mind would tie his company to that kind of a disaster.

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Paul says:
August 19, 2016 09:22am

Can we just have a vote on this already? This would silence the very loud minority and advance this project.. go ajax!! Hey Dennis how much you want to bet your no longer in council after your unreasonable behaviour.. like a spoiled child crying to get what it wants..

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Eric says:
August 19, 2016 11:17am

Since when are the pro-Ajax people the majority? Are you referring to the Kamloops Daily News poll from April 2013? Because a different survey from around the same time showed that people against the mine outnumbered pro-Ajaxers 3 to 1.

Source:
http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/201260481.html

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Paul says:
August 19, 2016 09:21am

Can we just have a vote on this already? This would silence the very loud minority and advance this project.. go ajax!! Hey Dennis how much you want to bet your no longer in council after your unreasonable behaviour.. like a spoiled child crying to get what it wants..

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Grouchy 1 says:
August 19, 2016 08:43am

" 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. "

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.

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Peter says:
August 19, 2016 12:15am

We all know just to well that Dennis the Menace is against the mine.. I am sure the province is well aware as well. Mayor Milobar please shut him up, he does not speak for all Kamloops just a small minority of socialist who live in Kamloops... please ask him to stick to selling DVDs that's what he really is good at, a dieing profession..

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Fedupgram says:
August 18, 2016 10:13pm

I am fed up with Denis Walsh and his pathetic attempts to stop what the majority of constituents in Kamloops want. He does not speak for me and although I voted for him in the last election I can assure him that my vote will go elsewhere in the next. I thought he was an intelligent man but his reasoning has gone off the rails and is nothing more than the ramblings of a narrow focused politician. I think he has been taking lessons from another would be politician south of the 49th. Take a seat Denis.

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Ann-Marie Hunter says:
August 18, 2016 05:15pm

Well said, Denis! It's time we stood up together to let Clark know that this mine is not safe!

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