Mayoral candidates tackle the issues - Part Four: The KGHM Ajax Mine

By Greg Fry
September 28, 2017 - 10:20am

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Where do the candidates for mayor of Kamloops stand on the biggest issues facing our city?

CFJC Today asked the six candidates about five different issues, and will give you their answers this week. (Todd McLeod failed to respond by deadline.)

Here's the fourth question we posed:

What is your stance on the KGHM Ajax Mine?

Bill McQuarrie: I feel the Ajax mine proposal is not suitable nor in the long term, economically beneficial for the future well being of Kamloops. For over 6 years and in the vacuum created by lack of political will, citizens of Kamloops felt abandoned as they were pitted against each other and ultimately forced to choose between 200+ jobs or the health of 90,000 people. This could have been avoided if there had been clear and decisive municipal leadership, a vision and a plan for Kamloops that had diversified and grown our economy over that time. Instead we had indecision, waffling, poor judgement and outright avoidance of the issues surrounding the mine. If elected, I will focus on developing and implementing an economic development package that over the next 10 to 15 years will add over 100 new small and medium sized businesses, creating 1200 to 1700 new and well paying jobs.

Ken Christian: The official position of council is to oppose this project and I concur with that position. Having studied this project for 6 years and carefully adjudicating all that has been researched, reported and written, I do not feel the company have yet answered all questions and concerns. Specifically, I do not believe the project reflects good fringe area planning. With fully 43% of our anticipated growth headed for the southwest sector we would be setting the stage for more serious urban industrial interface issues decades from now. I also do not believe the weight of evidence supports the air quality modeling predicted by the company and their assurances that there will be 90% mitigation and that they will do zero harm. As a former health officer, zero harm is virtually unattainable for any project. At best this is an inaccurate attempt to talk about risk assessment and risk management. Given that the air emissions are not from a point source, with specific volume and concentration parameters, it is increasingly more difficult to quantify emission sources especially those from ambient land disturbances, road dust and wind erosion . Given the level of uncertainty I do not believe that those nearby residents, especially the very young and the very old and those with compromised respiratory systems would not be adversely affected by this project. Finally, I was not able to conclude with any confidence that the project would not adversely affect the existing ground water regime in the Aberdeen Hills area.

Other factors to consider include opposition from allied agencies. The Stk'emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) opposes this project and we need to the support of the Tk'emlúps te Secwepemc (TTS) for a number of civic initiatives including completion of the Tournament Capital Ranch, Redevelopment of Stuart Wood, Expansion of Transit, and archaeological preservation. It will not serve these relationships well to be inconsistent with our positions on this proposal. Aberdeen Neighborhood Association and the Kamloops Medical Society also need to be considered as valued civic partners that deserve careful consideration.

Having said that, I do not concur with council’s decision not to recommend terms and conditions. The 500K expenditure on SLR was an investment that was always leading toward recommendations being provided to senior government who are the actual decision makes in this instance. The motion by Council is not as fulsome as it could have been. Similarly, I support the community benefit agreement and believe it was negotiated in good faith and would address many of the financial risks of the project. Many of the costs for the project such as road deterioration, policing costs and environmental monitoring are quantifiable while others such as industrial land offsets and property value impacts are more difficult to accurately quantify but are none the less important when adjudicating the total economic benefit of a project such as this. Being Mayor requires patience and a complete review of all available evidence.

Glenn Hilke: Too close to schools, children and populated areas, unstainable environmentally. We already have some of the worst air quality in all of BC, we are prone to Level 4 drought, we have windstorms every year bringing massive amounts of dust into the most populated areas. Too much pain for too little gain!

Stu Holland: I am the only mayoral candidate that supports Ajax and the economic benefits to our city is enormous from families buying and building homes and generating larger tax base to refurbishor build new schools and contribute to health care such as the hospital expansion and more health care workers and all of the support industries for the mining industry. So let's be ready because it's coming.

Micheal McKenzie: The city is together on this issue. I am mostly concerned with the fact that people are treating both sides with disrespect. I believe the city can manage a better relationship with all people. I can only do my part and my focus is bring together the community for our children and families. The Mayor is 1 out of 9 votes. Our collective future depends on resolve. Resolve comes from the people and those they elect.

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