KGHM-Ajax, City of Kamloops back at the table

By Tanya Cronin
April 12, 2016 - 9:53am Updated: April 12, 2016 - 7:14pm

KAMLOOPS —It was what many are calling a major gaffe on the part of KGHM-Ajax.

"I think it was a public relations mistake on their part and I think they've made amends for that and now we can resume negotiations and put that behind us," says City Councillor Ken Christian.

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After frustrations grew heated last week, when council received a letter stating a community benefit agreement with the company was off the table, a change of heart today. The company behind the proposed Copper-Gold Mine, will resume talks with the city.

"There's a lot we can talk about together including the long term vision for the community, its growth and its needs, KGHM has been committed to the community of Kamloops, we've demonstrated on many means, and that committment is ongoing," says Clyde Gillespie, KGHM-Ajax Project Manager.

Tuesday morning, in a joint news conference between Mayor Peter Milobar and Project Manage Clyde Gillespie, the two parties announced they will put their differences aside, and continue negotiating.

"Having continued conversation with KGHM does ensure the city's concerns are known, obviously last week highlighted the process around a mine application is complicated at the best of times, let alone on the border of a city of 90,000 people and has many aspects to it, the desire by KGHM to continue discussions with the city is an important step forward," says Peter Milobar, Mayor of Kamloops.

Discussions however, won't focus on a benefit agreement, but instead issues like the impact the mine could have on the population and infrastructure, is the city's primary concern.

"Better understanding around what roads will be used during construction, what traffic volumes we can anticipate, size of trucks, what's it going to be like afterwards, how's that going to be done and re-fixed if damaged, those are some of the basic things we're working on with KGHM, and that's why it's good we're moving forward to get discussions going."

The recent debate in the community has highlighted one thing, that people in Kamloops want KGHM working closely with the city. However, the company is still standing behind its move to put a community benefit agreement on hold.

"We're still very much in camp that we have to preserve the BC Environmental Assessment Office process, what we're trying to do today is find a way to still preserve that, but do what's in the best interest and to care for the community," says Gillespie.

Ajax also claims it is still committed to setting up a community advisory panel. A schedule for future meetings between the city and KGHM has not been set. Asked if revenue will be a part of the talks, a definitive answer wasn't given. 

"Revenue has got to be a part of it and is in any of these kinds of decisions, it's a risk benefit kind of decision that has to be made and we have to really understand the benefts both from economic, from jobs, from taxation all of those things need to be part of the discussions," says Christian. 

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