Attempt at Ajax deal will prove to be a blunder

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 4, 2017 - 7:09am

KAMLOOPS — Kamloops City council — the abbreviated version — closed the book on six and a half years of community-splitting debate on Ajax Tuesday, and it proved a fitting example of how destructive this whole proposal has been to the community.

Even in opposition to the behemoth copper mine proposed by Polish company KGHM, council was divided.

Divided to the point where Interim Mayor Arjun Singh — presiding over his final council meeting in the role — had to urge his colleagues not to engage in a “pissing match.”

He later apologized for getting, as he put it, a little rattled, but it was an indication of the extent to which this proposed mine has rended the very fabric of Kamloops and its surrounding region.

It all had to do with the City’s final submission to senior governments prior to the Oct. 10 deadline for public input, and what to say about the agreement — or non-agreement — with KGHM Ajax over compensation payments to the City.

Of particular irritation is a reference in a federal-provincial summary report to thgose so-called “benefits” payments to the city from KGHM.

That report seems to imply that the City wants to have its cake and eat it too, mentioning in the same paragraph that while Kamloops council officially opposes Ajax, it has negotiated with KGHM on payments.

Some councillors wanted to make sure it’s clear that no agreement has been signed, while Singh was focused on emphasizing it gives KGHM no “social licence” regardless.

They even got hung up on whether the unsigned accord should be called a “community benefits agreement,” a “community compensation package” or just a “community agreement.”

Whatever it’s called, it was a big mistake. It has totally muddied the waters.

Depending on which side is arguing the point, the attempt at reaching a payment deal with KGHM was either a smart, protective measure, or a blunder that gives senior governments the excuse they need to approve Ajax.

I very much fear it’s the latter.