Concerned residents about Lafarge re-opening want public comment period extended

By Chad Klassen
May 15, 2018 - 4:33pm Updated: May 15, 2018 - 5:45pm

KAMLOOPS — A group of residents worried about the impact of the Lafarge site re-opening spoke in front of Kamloops city council on Tuesday, expressing their concern about the health effects from the plant. 

The spokesperson for the Citizens for Compliance Doug Mears addressed city council, saying neighbours are concerned about the dust that would be produced from grinding gypsum and pumice. Mears notes he doesn't trust the Ministry of Environment to set proper standards for a company, Lafarge, which he says wasn't a good neighbour when they operated. 

"They've been quite the polluters of the valley," says Mears. "They've burnt railroad ties, they've burnt coal, and it produces a lot of toxic particles in the air. We just want them, when they fire up, we want some new regulations. We want today's best technology on their screening plants, and if they can't provide us with new technology to screen the particles that are coming in the air, I just don't think they should fire up again."

The group, many of which live outside of city limits, was asking city council to extend the public comment period, which closes at the end of May. Mayor Ken Christian notes that decision is ultimately up to the province. But Mears says more time is needed to looking the environmental impacts.

"They're producing a supposedly organic product that's going to be a fertilizer, but within that they're going to be grinding gypsum, which they've always done. But when we start looking at the dust and the particulate, it's going to affect our air quality in the valley," says Mears. 

"We're not out to shut anybody down. We're all for job-creation. But I think when we look at the valley, there is so much tourism. I think someone told me there's 11 tour companies starting up in this town. That brings thousands of people to the valley. They're touring our wineries, they're touring our wildfire park, they're using our surrounding lakes."

The group wants the Ministry of Environment to extend the public comment period until the fall, so more research into the Lafarge re-opening can be done. 

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