Principle of no-mine buffer zone around communities is sound

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
February 26, 2018 - 6:47am Updated: February 26, 2018 - 11:44am

KAMLOOPS — I’ve been reading the reaction on social media to Coun. Dieter Dudy’s proposal to establish a 10-km. buffer zone around communities that would stop mines from being developed within them.

I must say, quite a few of the comments are thoughtful and informative. Others want to refight Ajax, and are of the usual “just stupid” variety, but several offer legitimate comments about such questions as surface claims, compensation for existing claims and gravel pits.

Now that the Ajax issue has pretty much been settled, we seem able to have a more civil discussion about the proximity of mining to urban development.

As to the 10-km. zone proposed by Coun. Dudy, whose notice of motion on the matter will be discussed at tomorrow’s weekly City council meeting, there are already signs there will be some opposition to it from fellow councillors.

That opposition, no doubt, will be founded on concerns about details like the ones I’ve just mentioned.

But keep in mind the concept of buffer zones against mines being built cheek by jowl against communities is nothing new. It was the very foundation of the arguments against Ajax.

Had Ajax been located 10 or 15 km. away from city boundaries, even as far away as the New Afton copper mine, there’s little doubt it would not have been so contentious.

Throughout more than six years of public debate, as comparisons were made with Malartic and other communities next door to mines, “too big, too close” became a rallying cry for opponents.

Dudy’s notice of motion speaks to the fundamental truth that people aren’t against mines as long as they aren’t too close to where they live.

So while the details of his proposal are important, they’re something that can be worked out, and the principle of keeping mines an acceptable distance from home is sound.

It’s something for all levels of government to discuss and come to agreement on.

It’s a concept that could provide some peace between mine developers and communities, and prevent another Ajax.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.