KAMLOOPS — The public comment period — the latest and last public comment period — on Ajax quietly came to an end at midnight last night.
More than 600 comments were submitted to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office website.
That’s a lot of comments. Unfortunately, very, very few of them will add anything to the information needed for the provincial and federal governments to make a decision.
The comment period ran for two months, and it was supposed to be about what people think of the joint federal-provincial report summarizing the pros and cons of the project.
Almost everyone ignored that fact, and instead repeated the same old arguments about jobs versus lifestyle and the environment. They are exactly the same arguments that were being put forward back in the spring of 2011 when news of the proposal first exploded into the public’s consciousness.
Some of the latest offerings are lengthy, many are only a dozen words or so. A very few offer thoughtful opinions on what the subject of the comment period was supposed to be about.
One thing that can be said about the Ajax proposal — the BCEAO has gone out of its way to ensure nobody can claim the process hasn’t been transparent and collaborative.
We’ve had public comment period on top of public comment period, we’ve had extensions and pauses and delays. There’s been a community advisory group, a working group, technical reviews, an independent study commissioned by the City, a self-directed First Nations study and report, open houses, town halls, revisions in design and responses from KGHM to concerns that have been raised.
And all through it, for six and a half years, the yes’s and the no’s have repeated themselves over and over. We’ve had our chances to vent, and then some.
Transparency and consultation are no guarantees that the decision will be the right one. Whatever that decision is, though, and however much the process is flawed, the public has had ever opportunity to speak.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.