Kamloops city council makes statement with opposition to Ajax

By Chad Klassen
July 17, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: July 17, 2017 - 6:14pm

KAMLOOPS — If the decision on the proposed Ajax mine was up to Kamloops city council, it would not have a chance. 

That's the message that rang loud and clear on Monday, as five councillors out of six at the table officially came out against the proposed mine.

"I came to Council stead-fastly opposed to this project for many reasons," said councillor Dieter Dudy. "Not the least of which is human and environmental health. Nothing to date has changed my position, and I have considered all sides in this matter. I feel too much is left unanswered and filled with ambiguity." 

Councillors Donovan Cavers, Denis Walsh, and Tina Lange simply reaffirmed their stance against Ajax. The only unknown coming into the vote was deputy mayor Arjun Singh who spoke out in opposition to the mine. 

"My research and assessment leads me to a difficult decision today not to support the Ajax proposal," said Singh. 

Singh noted the lack of support from the Shuswap First Nations is a "deal-breaker" for him. 

"I think SSN had a really strong process and really did influence my decision," said Singh. "I think we need Indigenous support for major economic projects in the community and in the region. Not having that was a big problem for KGHM."

In the end, it was a 5-1 decision against Ajax with councillor Pat Wallace the only one standing up for the project. 

"It's easy for some to say, 'well the mine only offers a couple hundred jobs.' Does anyone not understand the insult that is to someone who doesn't have a job?" said Wallace, arguing Ajax will help Kamloops grow. 

The motion to submit their stance to both the federal and provincial governments without any conditions was successful in a 4-2 vote. While Dudy was against Ajax, he voted against the motion. He feels the city needs to have certain conditions in place in case the project is approved by both governments. 

"In one case, we're saying we are against this project. That's it. We're against it," said Dudy. "However, we are also not stupid. We recognize we're not the ones with the ultimate authority, and if that's going to happen I want to protect this community. I want to make sure there are certain things being addressed."

A letter expressing council's position against Ajax will be forward to each the federal and provincial governments on Friday. 

City still to receive $3.8 million annually from KGHM if Ajax approved