Best thing for all would be a graceful exit by KGHM

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
March 6, 2017 - 10:30am

KAMLOOPS — Can there be any doubt that the proposed Ajax mine is dead?

The importance of the decision by local First Nations to unequivocally reject the project can’t be under-estimated.

This past weekend, the Tk’emlúps and Skeetchestn Bands, acting together as the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) came out full-bore against Ajax, joining with a great many in the Kamloops community to ‘just say no.’

This was not a maybe. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Fred Seymour says Ajax doesn’t make sense — the benefits are short-term, the damages to the environment forever.

And Acting Skeetchestn Band Chief Terry Denault says First Nations people “have a duty” to say no. Indeed, that’s the feeling of a large percentage of people in the greater Kamloops community.

So what now for KGHM, the Polish mining giant behind the copper-mine proposal. How can it possibly counter this latest development?

While we all continue to await the long-overdue re-start of the environmental permit application process, as well as the results of the City’s consultant’s report, the SSN decided not to wait. It did its own independent environmental review with a panel of more than two dozen, then deliberated and made a decision.

And what will the fence-sitting politicians do now? Can they continue to avoid the issue right through the provincial election? They will very likely try, but there will be more pressure than ever on them to take a stand.

This will be done in an environment of heightened energy and hope among opponents, along with heightened tensions among area residents as the war of words that has been on pause these past few months ramps up again.

But, surely, in the end, this project must be rejected. A few hundred jobs just aren’t worth the risks. The SSN has realized this and the verdict is in — Ajax must go.

Let’s end the damaging divisiveness. The best thing for all, for the community, would be for the parties — KGHM, City, SSN, environmental groups, government agencies — to get together now to craft a declaration that the project is dead and develop a strategy for a graceful exit by KGHM and Ajax.

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