More letters of support for Ajax like the one signed by 42 business leaders will be coming, says a spokesman for KGHM Ajax.
The letter, published in the Armchair Mayor News on Wednesday morning, is addressed to key municipal, provincial and federal politicians, and says the proposed mine would not only be good for the economy, but good for the lifestyle of Kamloops.
The letter was sent under the heading, ‘Kamloops Business Leaders for Ajax.’
Robert Koopmans, senior communications strategist for KGHM Ajax, said the letter resulted from an “ongoing” series of meetings with various members of the business community. He said the company has been asking business people to sign the letter, or letters like it.
More than 100 have signed so far, he said, but there are several hundred more business proprietors KGHM Ajax wants to solicit support from. The letter published Wednesday was “compiled” along with the businesses themselves, rather than simply being presented to them for signature, he said.
“It was more of a team effort.”
Some of the meetings have been with small groups of five or 10 people, some larger, he said. Typically, a Powerpoint presentation is made to the group, after which there’s a discussion, and then a request to sign a letter. A draft letter is distributed and feedback received over the next few days, then signatures requested.
Future letters might be similar or might vary from the first one, and some business owners wa
nt to write their own, he said.
“They are tired of hearing nothing but the voices of opponents,” Koopmans said. “We’re always seeking input from people. It’s important to us.”
The company hopes to eventually talk to the entire business community but “it’s a pretty big undertaking.”
Retired City chief administrative officer Randy Diehl said he signed the letter on the proviso that all environmental concerns about the proposed mine are met. He attended one of the meetings in April in which attendees were asked if they were satisfied with the communication process and whether they would be willing to sign a letter of support.
Diehl said he doesn’t oppose mining and as long as the project satisfies environmental issues he’s OK with it.
Kim Behrns, who also signed the letter, said he’s onside if Ajax passes all environmental criteria. “I certainly wouldn’t be in favour of it otherwise.”
Behrns acknowledged he works for KGHM Ajax on a contract basis, hosting minesite tours and helping with information sessions, but he’s not an employee. The meetings are being held “I think to show there are people in the community that are in favour of it.”
Among the others who signed are Kamloops Blazers co-owner Tom Gaglardi, Subway franchise owner Graydon Flanagan, and former Chamber of Commerce presidents Bob Dieno and Peter Aylen.
The letter states, in part, “Ajax can and will be developed in an environmentally responsible manner, following all provincial and federal regulations. Ongoing mointoring will ensure that the environment and health of the community are protected and maintained.”
Koopmans said the letter was “never intended for public release.”
The letter was addressed to Mayor Peter Milobar, the provincial and federal environment ministers, and B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett, with copies to various other politicians.