‘Five conditions’ rejected but at least council had an Ajax debate

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
November 23, 2016 - 5:00am Updated: November 23, 2016 - 2:27pm

KAMLOOPS — I’ve never heard so many excuses for not taking a stand on something as came out of the mouths of several Kamloops City councillors Tuesday afternoon.

But on the bright side, they finally had a debate about Ajax.

Coun. Denis Walsh asked council to support a motion setting out five conditions on the Ajax mine.

The document was pretty harmless but half the members of council managed to make it complicated.

Mayor Peter Milobar said he couldn’t support it because there are more than five things to be concerned about, and everything “in its entirety” has to be considered at once.

Ken Christian, among other things, felt Walsh’s idea that the mine must be acceptable to indigenous communities was problematic because the Bands weren’t asked whether they wanted to be included in the motion. Yet all Walsh’s motion said was that the mine should be acceptable to them before it’s approved.

Marg Spina’s main issue was that it wasn’t the right time. It needed to wait until an independent report from a private consultant is received, she said.

And on it went.

Walsh’s document wasn’t perfection personified, but there was nothing whatsoever that could do any harm to either side of the argument. The closest it came to being contentious was its support of the independent expert engineering panel in its post-Mount Polley findings that the best way to handle tailings is with dry-stack storage rather than a thickened-tailings pond as KGHM proposes.

And Walsh asked for independent, world-class oversight and monitoring, and proper financial compensation for the City.

It was all about making the mine — if it’s approved — as safe for the community as it can be. Yet four of the eight councillors present couldn’t bring themselves to vote yes.

Still, at least they all had a half-decent debate about Ajax.

Mel Rothenburger blogs at armchairmayor.ca and can be contacted at [email protected].