Report on Ajax gives both sides ammunition but…

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
June 14, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: June 14, 2017 - 6:20pm

KAMLOOPS — There’s something for everybody in the SLR Consulting report on the KGHM Ajax application released by the City on Tuesday.

Those on either side of the issue can point to certain things and say “Aha, I told you so! This proves our point!”

That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since the report is a balanced analysis of the application for the proposed mine. No project is all good or all bad.

For example, SLR states that its findings are “generally consistent with those of KGHM” on such things as acoustics and vibration, water balance, accidents and some of the socio-economic benefits.

But, the consultant has “heightened uncertainties and/or low confidence” with respect to conclusions on air quality, human health, water quality, and other issues including some of the socio-economic impacts.

For example, the report agrees the project is expected to positively contribute to economic growth and diversification within the region. Fair enough, we all knew it would create jobs.

And if you support the mine, you’ll want to highlight that part of the report in bright colours.

But, and this is important, the report goes on to say the benefits are weighted to the construction phase and drop substantially during operations.

The report is full of “on the one hands” and “on the other hands” and words like “uncertain” and “unknown.” Again, understandable.

The decision on the project shouldn’t be about chalking up points for each side and declaring one the winner. It’s about whether concerns as a whole outweigh the risks, or whether the risks are worth taking.

When the concerns include things like air quality and human health, short-term economic gains just don’t measure up. And reassurances about vibration and such aren’t enough.

Though the report is balanced, on first reading it more than confirms that there are more negatives than positives to this project. The downsides aren’t worth it.